The Boston Diaries

The ongoing saga of a programmer who doesn't live in Boston, nor does he even like Boston, but yet named his weblog/journal “The Boston Diaries.”

Go figure.

Sunday, January 14, 2001

C-SPAN is showing inaugural addresses from past Presidents and right now they're showing President Regan's speech. Of all the Presidents, he's the one who had The Mandate. The last President to have such a backing was George Washing.

Monday, January 15, 2001

dream about trying to find an alarm clock going off and sleeping through the actual alarm clock for 15 minutes.

Tuesday, January 16, 2001

One small detail.

Since I only have five usable public IP addresses, I've had to resort to using a private network, of which the Windows system is on. Now, since I tend to browse from Windows (as I actually like IE better than Nutcase) I can't directly browse the internet.

No big deal. I set up Squid on the Linux system. Only I forgot one thing when changed IP addresses: I forgot to change the entry in /etc/hosts.


I could have been email …

Height of laziness: Sending an instant message to my roommate in the next room because I didn't feel like getting up.

Wednesday, January 17, 2001

Non linear art

What the Wiki Wiki Web is to text, cOiNTEL is to drawing. There is no real describing this site other than having to experience it youself.

Oh, you'll need Flash 5 to actually use the site.

Non linear art, II

Actually, cOiNTEL is less like the Wiki Wiki Web and mroe like a web discussion board like Slashdot or Kuro5hin, or even Scott McCloud's Carl Lives, an ever-going, ever expanding, ever branching story.

The interface is a bit confusing and frankly, it took me several minutes to even understand what was going on (and being in Flash limits it somewhat) but this is an entirely new realm of comics here—that's to be expected to some degree.

Thursday, January 18, 2001

A different web log report

I have over 600 days worth of weblogs and I decided to play around with them a bit. Using GD to handle the actual graphics, I made a graph of accesses to my site over the past 600 days. The X-axis is in minutes, the Y-axis is days and I basically graphed a point for a hit (or hits) per minute of time.

I can get away with this since I don't receive that much traffic.

Some things are apparent immediately: vertical lines are repeat hits at the same time each day (the bottom of the graph shows an automated script the colocation facility runs to monitor the server), while a horizontal line indicates hits across an extended period of time in a single day.

I also had the program report back the number of hits per minute: it averages probably two or so per minute, but has a peak of 167 per minute.

Quite interesting.

Friday, January 19, 2001

Have you seen the light?

Before I was fired from my previous job, I got depressed that I never left the office before dark. I leave the office, it's dark. It was depressing. I wanted to leave while there was still light outside.

Becareful what you wish for. You may just get it.

It's always light when I leave the office now. Light. Too light. Too bright. Ouch.

Face out

Walking towards my car, I noticed an odd thing—every car in the row I was parked in was facing out.


Sunday, January 21, 2001

Notes from a 24-hour gas station deli at 4:00 am

I approach the deli counter at the local 24-hour gas station deli and this guy is yelling into his cell phone. “Yea! I found his girlfriend and my girlfriend together! And guess what they had? Mayo and mustard. No, not the spicy mustard, the regular mustard.” That last bit to the deli worker, not to the person on the other end of the phone. He then resumes his conversation like nothing happened. “I swear! Next time she had better ask me before doing that…. I don't care if he allows it …” His sandwhich being finished, he wanders off to the counter.

Meanwhile three college age guys wander in, wearing khakis and black dress shirts. They grab some bags of chips and tear into them as they wander over to the deli counter. “I'm going to get some beer,” said one of the frat boys.

“I'm sorry,” said the clerk behind the counter. “No beer sales after two a.m.”

“What?” said the boisterous frat boy.

“We can't sell you beer.”

“Hey man!” said the frat boy. “I want beer. The cases are open! If you can't sell them then why aren't the cases locked?”

“Hey, Steve,” said one of his companions, munching away on chips. “Don't make any trouble; I'm hungry man! I want my sub.”

“Why do you mean you can't sell beer?”

“It's the law in Florida,” said the deli worker.

“Like how am I supposed to know?” said frat boy.

“You live in Florida, you are supposed to know.”

“Well I never heard of that!”

“Please Steve, let it go.”

“If you don't like it,” said the deli worker, “call and talk to the police.”

“What? Now you gonna call the police?”

“No, I said if you don't like the law, call the police and talk to them about it.”

“Man, I hate this state. All these foreigners who don't understand you. `Yes, I'd like four hamburgers. No, not eight, four!' God why did we ever come here?”

“Come on Steve, let's just get our sandwhiches and go.”

“I have to drink soda? God!”

Frat boys. Gotta love 'em.

The Bruno Daily Times

Bruno is one of the few strips I find good enough to read (on the Internet, much less in print) and in searching around, I came across an interview with Christopher Baldwin, the artist responsible for the strip.

Bruno would be wearing a “swoosh” right now if you'd signed that contract.

It was “$100,000 and we get all rights,” and that was the basic contract. And I said, “Well, I don't know if that's quite worth it.” And they said, “Well, you can keep doing the strip and putting it up on your page.” And I said, “For you?”

Update on Thursday, June 25TH, 2020

Updated the link.

Wednesday, January 24, 2001


Qualifying For A FREE Grant Is Easy!

$10,000 to over $100,000 in FREE Grant Money is Available NOW!

~ Never Repay ~
~ No Credit Checks ~
~ No Interest Charges ~

See if YOU meet the requirements!  Click on our website below NOW!


Nevermind the fact that a grant is free money that you don't have to repay, I was curious enough by this piece of spam email to check this page out (from work and I typed the URL by hand into a new instance of the browser so no referer information would be sent).

Of course in order to get this FREE Grant MoneyTM you have to buy their book for $39.95. Of course.

I then decided to do a search on Free Grant Money (via Google) and found that there are two, maybe three, competing companies selling the same information ad naseum across the Internet. But I kept on digging and did manage to dig up some good information on grants in general.

“Why am I in the kitchen again?”

I hate this. I know I wanted to do a few entries, but having done the first one, I for the life of me can't recall what the other entries I wanted to do were.


Thursday, January 25, 2001

BSD headers—Just Say No!

I got called to help a friend compile a program. He's still learning C and the program he was compiling was throwing up the following error:

gcc  -O2 -DHAVE_CONFIG_H -D_GNU_SOURCE   -I. -Iprotos -c action.c
action.c: In function `action_command':
action.c:51: void value not ignored as it ought to be
action.c: In function `substitute_vars':
action.c:138: void value not ignored as it ought to be
action.c:143: void value not ignored as it ought to be
action.c:163: void value not ignored as it ought to be
action.c: In function `check_one_action':
action.c:245: void value not ignored as it ought to be
make: *** [action.o] Error 1

It was failing on the strcpy() and strncpy() functions. It was apparent to me that the program was using an improper definition of the functions—the problem was to figure out where it was pulling the defintions in from. Easy enough to generate what the preprocessor was feeding into the compiler (with gcc using the -E option and sending the output to a file).

The original lines:

if (*!ptr)
  strcpy(pr, "5"); /* defaults priority to 5 if no value given */

And the preprocessor was spitting out:

    (__extension__ (__builtin_constant_p (  "5" )       ? (((size_t)(const
void *)((   "5"  ) + 1) - (size_t)(const void *)(   "5"  ) == 1)  && strlen
(  "5" ) + 1 <= 8        ? __strcpy_small ( pr , __extension__ (((__const  
unsigned char *) (__const char *) (    "5"   ))[  0  + 1] << 8 | ((__const 
unsigned char *) (__const char *) (    "5"   ))[  0 ]) ,    __extension__  
(((__const unsigned char *) (__const char *) (    "5"   ))[  4  + 1] << 8 |
((__const unsigned char *) (__const char *) (    "5"   ))[  4 ]) ,
__extension__ (((((__const unsigned char *) (__const char *) (    "5"   ))[
0  + 3] << 8 | ((__const unsigned char *) (__const char *) (    "5"   ))[  0
+ 2]) << 8 | ((__const unsigned char *) (__const char *) (    "5"   ))[  0  
+ 1]) << 8 | ((__const unsigned char *) (__const char *) (    "5"   ))[  0  
]) ,  __extension__ (((((__const unsigned char *) (__const char *) (    "5" 
))[  4  + 3] << 8 | ((__const unsigned char *) (__const char *) (    "5"    
))[  4  + 2]) << 8 | ((__const unsigned char *) (__const char *) (    "5"   
))[  4  + 1]) << 8 | ((__const unsigned char *) (__const char *) (    "5"   
))[  4 ])  , strlen (  "5" ) + 1)    : (char *) bcopy(    "5"  ,   pr  ,    
strlen (  "5" ) + 1 ) )   : strcpy ( pr ,   "5" ))) ;

Oh my. Mind you, that was one line and no attempt to even comprehend that is being made (in fact, the breaks are just where hey happened when I copied the text in).

Checking the file futher, I can see it's including strings.h which is not part of the ANSI standard. In fact, it's an old BSDism, which shouldn't be used anymore. Some mucking about with the header file spit out by configure got the compile to work.

So much for using configure.

Friday, January 26, 2001

Captain Napalm and the International Jewel Cartel Incident

This has to be the wierdest piece of spam mail I've received yet (converted to HTML, some editing to indentifying information, otherwise, it's what I received):



TO:Sean Conner


Dear sir,

I humbly write you this letter which I have no doubt will be a source of surprise to you since I have not written you before. My name is Mr.XXXXXXXXXXXX a native of sierra Leon currently on political asylum in the Netherlands.

I am requesting your assistance in order to salvage a business in which I have successfully positioned as a middleman to earn profit. Presently,I have been contacted by former business Associate of my late father in South Africa who are interested in buying Gem Stone of Topaz(sierra leonian voodoo ritual brand) value worth of US$3,000.000.00(Three million u.s.dollars). I have Assured the buyer that I've got what they need readily available in Stock and they are willing to meet me in the Netherlands when instructed with the money.

Due to pressure of war many Sierra Leon"special" Gem dealers forcefully migrated to UK to save their lives and now operate business from London. As a result of the popularity of my late farther in this field I have discovered a source in london to supply the order for only $750,000.00 and the Seller is willing to visit me in Netherlands with the Demand as he has been assured and guaranteed about the availability of the Funds upon their arrival in the Netherlands.

My concern is that I do not want to link the seller and the buyer directly to ensure that my interest will be protected.This is because if I link them both directly(as a middle man),they are likely to feel the pinch as the main Operators and will decide to bypass me and deal directly with themselves as this is a regular trick in this type of business.

As it stands now,I have no money to effectively handle the Demand and supply required my intention is to invite the seller and the buyer both the same day and date and separate them by lodging them in different Hotels without their individual knowledge of my source. Effectively,we shall buy from the supplier for only US$750,000.00 as Negotiated and sell to the Buyer in A different hotel location for US$3,000.000.00 After which,we shall share the profits according to be agreed terms.

You will be entitled to 70%($US1.575.000) of the US$2,250,000.00 profit to be made in this business while 30%(US$675,000) shall be for me at the end of the whole exercise. You will sponsor the deal. We shall meet face to face in the Netherlands.

You do not need to be knowledgeable to get involved I am knowledgeable on this field and will represent both of us interest one hundred percent.

I wish to assure you that this transaction will not attract any risk on your behalf whatsoever and does not affect you whatsoever. As stated earlier,I have finalized every arrangement with both ends,however without your assistance both clients will see me as unserious and will opt to search some where else as they both expect an immediate action from me.

Upon hearing from you,I will get the process running.

You can always reach me through e-mail,phone or fax as indicated above.

Best regards,



I must admit, this is rather a rather odd piece of spam. And if I had a spare $750,000.00 I wouldn't even get near a crazy scheme like this. Heck, I don't have $750,000.00 and I don't want to get near a scheme like this.

Now, if he only wanted me along as a warm body and I didn't have to front the $750,000.00 then maybe, maybe I'd go along with this. I mean, a payout of $1,575,000.00 isn't anything to sneeze at.

Monday, January 29, 2001

A phone to wake you by




Roll over sleep.



Pick up. “Um, hello?”

“Greetings and salutations,” my answering machine said. “This is area code … ” Grumble. Roll out of bed. Cross condo. Shut off answering machine and pick up phone.


Dead silence.


Listen to answering machine. Mark going on about an exploit in bind 8.2.2-p5. Know about that. Knew about that for several months from a cow-orker at work who couldn't locate the exploit.





“Hey Sean!” It's John, the paper millionaire of a dot com and he's entirely too chipper this early in the … afternoon. “Are you awake?”


“But it's four o'clock! What time did you get to bed?”

“Uh … ” My brain hurts. “Eight this morning?”

“You're still sleeping, aren't you? Well, give me a call later on. I know what I want to do for my next big project.” He then hung up.


I hate waking up to the phone.

A penny for a stamp

It's bill time once again, and normally this wouldn't be a problem (well, paying bills is a problem, but I'm not talking about the actual payment part) except that starting January 7TH, the USPS hiked the rate for first class mail up 1¢. It was only six months ago that I finally used the last of my 1¢ stamps from the last pay hike (I had precicely enough 1¢ stamps to cover the remaining 32¢ stampts I had left).

So now I have about 60 33¢ stamps left. Sigh.

So today I made an effort to head off to the local USPS to obtain enough 1¢ stamps to last.

Rob, my roommate went along (as we were going to a late lunch/early dinner afterwards). Parking was a nightmare; no spots left, so people were fighting over spots as people were leaving. The person waiting in front of me was desperate enough to back up, nearly hitting me in order to give enough room for one person to back out. Fortunately someone else left at about the same time, giving me a parking space.

I dove around the ashtray, where I keep spare change. I only had yuppie food stamps (US $20 bills) and did not relish the thought of receiving $19 worth of change in Susan B. Anthony dollar coins. I was able to scrape up about a dollars worth of change.

Walking up to the building we could see a line stretching out the door for counter service. There was no way I was going to wait in that line. We did walk in to see if the stamp machines served 1¢ stamps.

We were in luck. They did.

“One at a time?” I asked. “Not even a book?”

“This is going to be fun,” Rob said.

“You're too easily amused,” I said, dropping a dime into the machine and selecting C-2, the 1¢ stamp.

HOW MANY? PLEASE TYPE IN AMOUNT 1-10: queried the machine.

“Oh cool!” I said. I punched in 10 and the machine spit out 10 stamps in a long paper stream. “Ooh, just like … uh … that game … ” I made motions of tossing a ball underhanded.

“… yea … um … ” Rob started doing the same thing.



“Just like skeeball,” I said. I dropped in another 30¢.

HOW MANY? PLEASE TYPE IN AMOUNT 1-10: queried the machine.

“Nice,” I said. “Only 10 at a time.”

“Much better than one at a time,” said Rob.

“Yea, lots.”

A mortgage for your thoughts

Each month I swear to myself that I'll deal with my regular mail on a daily basis instead of piling it up on the dinning room table. And each month it piles up on the dining room table and I only get to it when I actually pay my bills.

So it's only now that I learn that I have a new mortgage company.

This is my … third? Fouth? Mortgage company since 1994. I think fourth but I'll have to check my records. If so, then I've had more mortgage companies than banks.

And I've never switched banks. They've switched me.

God I love corporations and their wierd machinations to maintain money flow.

Tuesday, January 30, 2001

“There's a sucker born every minute.”

John, the paper millionaire of a dot com called again. Asked me what I was doing.

“Still sorting through my bills and writing checks,” I said.

Can that wait? I have to talk to you about my next project! Mark is headed over here as well,” he said.

“Uh … ” I looked at the pile of junk mail and the few bills I had. “Sure. I'll be there in half an hour.”

So I headed on over there and heard his idea.

Can't say much about what it is, but I've heard of stupider ideas that made tons of money, so what can I say?

As P. T. Barnum used to say …

Parenthetical, a bug

bind 8.3 apparently parses differently, much to the annoyance of Mark and I.

Mark woke me up this morning, well, afternoon, with a problem. He upgraded to bind 8.2.3 in the wake of the recent advisory and it was failing to load his zone files. “It's dying in the parser,” he said. “It doesn't like the comments!”

We hashed it out for a few minutes when it hit me. “Mark, for your SOA records, do you have the opening parenthesis on its own line?”

“Yes,” Mark said.

“Yea, I thought so.” I do the same thing. “Just humor me. Put it at the end of the line.” I won't repeat the litany of swearing he did when that worked. Mark then signed off, having to upgrade his zone files.

Gee, such a nice gratuitous change there guys.

Easier and cleaner, therefore it's wrong

You see, both Mark and I put opening parenthesis on their own line in our zone files:

@       IN      SOA
                        2000120101      ; Serial
                        43200           ; Refresh       (12h)
                        14400           ; Retry         ( 4h)
                        604800          ; Expire        ( 1w)
                        86400           ; Minimum TTL   ( 1d)

Instead of the way nearly everyone else does it:

@       IN      SOA (
                        2000120101      ; Serial
                        43200           ; Refresh       (12h)
                        14400           ; Retry         ( 4h)
                        604800          ; Expire        ( 1w)
                        86400)          ; Minimum TTL   ( 1d)

It's cleaner and easier to read.

Of course that makes it wrong!


Schemes, Scams, Frauds.

I wonder if this has anything to do with my recent business proposal?

I wonder …

Evolution in action

Jason Lind was severely burned Friday night when he and a friend poured gasoline on his feet and legs and set him ablaze while imitating a stunt on MTV's high-rated show “Jackass,” police said. The fire grew out of control and burned the boy's legs and hands before it was extinguished, officials said.

Connecticut teen burned while imitating MTV stunt

Evolution in action, people! Evolution in action!

Why is that so wrong?

Wednesday, January 31, 2001


I've had enough. While IDSL is nice and all, I have noticed that periodically, the connection will just simply drop. For about ten to twenty seconds or so. So I wrote some software to record the outtages. I'll let it run for about a week or so, then send the results back to Velotel.

In the hour I've been running it, I've already recorded some outtages.

This might be worse than I thought.

There's a bug in the RAID …

While talking with Mark today he mentioned having a problem with Linux on a client's machine. It seems that the latest kernel, 2.4.1, doesn't like the client's hardware—it doesn't boot at all.

Now this client has an AMI MegaRAID controller, in addition to dual processors. The reason for the upgrade, other than the occasional kernel panic, is to have better network throughput, as the networking stack in 4.2 will actually work correctly in an SMP configuration.

Only it doesn't work. Mark was able to track down the problem to a call to reqeust_region() which seems to possibly have undergone a return value change since 2.2 and this particular driver wasn't updated; there's no contact or authorship for the driver other than Dell Corporation.

But the general consensus of both Mark and I is that Linux is slowly sinking into software bloat and general chaos. There are design decisions that Linus Torvalds is making that hamper the growth of Linux (one of the bigs ones—no revision control system. Another—he hates modular kernels (and modular in this sense doesn't mean kernel modules, more a sensible ABI or API between the kernel and various drivers and subsystems. Oh, and no enterprise support in the Linus' version of the kernel). A kernel split is, I think, imminent.

A mutanous paradise

In general surfing I came across several sites for the island of Pitcairn, a small island in the south Pacific halfway between New Zealand and South America and home to the descendants of mutineers from the HMS Bounty.

The island itself is approximately 1 km by 2 km, very rocky and mountainous and other than a rather expensive Internet connection (some US$3.50/minute) and inconsistent travel accomidations (you can get there only by sea, and even then there's no regular route and even if you arrange for transportation (at a typical price of $700 one way) if the weather or sea is too rough, tough. No landing, do over again.

But you can register A Pitcairn domain!

Binding BIND

I downloaded BIND 8.2.3 and in poking around the source code, found the offending code that prevented the parsing of DNS zone files in a certain format. It was a one line modification to fix the problem:


getnonblank(FILE *fp, const char *src, int multiline) {
        int c;

        multiline = 1;  /* hack to fix --spc */
        while ((c = getc(fp)) != EOF) {
                if (isspace(c)) {
                        if (c == '\n') {
                                if (multiline)
                                        goto eol;
                if (c == ';') {
                        while ((c = getc(fp)) != EOF && c != '\n')
                        if (c == '\n') {
                                if (multiline)
                                        goto eol;
                return (c);
        ns_info(ns_log_db, "%s:%d: unexpected EOF", src, lineno);
        return (EOF);
        ns_error(ns_log_db, "%s:%d: unexpected end of line", src, lineno);
        /* don't ungetc(c, fp); as the caller will do this. */


Thursday, February 01, 2001

Cosmic Wimpout!

I have this game! Neat to see it still around, and that the rules are even online at the site.


Outtage, Part II

I'm looking over the data collected by my program and so far, it looks like I'm experiencing about two to three outtages an hour, for an average of 17 seconds per outtage. It looks like there's a pattern going, but I won't know more until I do some actual processing on the data.

Friday, February 02, 2001

Outage, Part III

I put the program I wrote on Mark's network to monitor it for a few days. From the log file it looks like he has a nice reliable connection.

More on this as it develops …

Saturday, February 03, 2001

Happy Kwanzaa!

Happy Birthday Spring!

Nuts about pistachios

Mmmmmmmm. I scored myself a bag of pistachios at work. Mmmmmmmmmmmm.

The Neverending Website

The Neverending Tale is a web-based tool allowing students to collaborate on creative and expository writing. Students choose their own path through a story line. Each page contains text and a list of choices to follow. Each choice branches off into a new page, with its own text and choices. The outcome of the story depends on what choices the reader makes on each page. The program has been shown to be most useful for students in grades 4 through 8.

The Neverending Tale

This is another good example of non-linear hypertext writing. While it might not contain good writing per say, I think the concept is quite cool.

Hanging with Borg Collective Refugees

Woo hoo! The 41ST Tropical Hamboree is today! After work, I'm calling up the gang (I know they won't like getting up this early) and we're headed down to Miami and hang out with grown men looking like refugees from a Borg Collective and oogle cheap computer equipment.

Just like we do every year.

Phone Calls I






“Hey Kelly!” I said. It's 8:13 am. HAM fest time. “Going to the HAM fest?”

“Yuah. Kabaklader.”

“Okay, I'll call you about 9:30, 10?”

“Yuah, fine.”

Looks like I'm gonna have to kickstart all my friends.

Phone Calls II






“Hello. This is Mark. I'm at home right now, but if you leave your name and message, I'll get back to you as soon as I leave the house. Thanks.” Beep.

“Hey Mark, this is Sean. HAM fest time. Well, looks like you're still sleeping so I'll give you a call back in a few minutes. Bye.”

Phone Calls III






“Hey Jeff. Sean.”


“HAM fest?”

“Sure. Are Kelly and Mark going?”

“Yup. Figured we could meet here at my house and carpool down there.”

“Okay. Let me get up and shower. I'll call back later.”

Phone Calls IV



“Did you just call me?”

“Yup. HAM fest?”

“Uh, what time is it?”

“10:00 am. Figured I give you a chance to sleep.”

“Ugh. Did you call Kelly?”

“He's still sleeping.”

“Call me back when you wake him up.”

Phone Calls V






“Hey Kelly. HAM fest?”

“Um, sure. Is Mark going?

“Yea. He said to wake him up when you wake up.”

“Call me back when he wakes up.”


My roommate Rob was watching me make all these calls with amusement. Since we're all computer geeks we usually tend not to keep such early hours but I figure that since this is a once-a-year event, it's not that bad.

We finally got the plans worked out. Kelly would drive down with his Dad, and Mark, JeffK, Rob and I would meet at my house and we'd drive down.

Around 11:00 am Mark and JeffK arrive. We pile into my car (it being both te cleanest and the largest) and after a short stop by an ATM and gas station, we start the hourish long drive to west Miami.

We got off at the wrong exit, getting off at 41ST St. instead of U.S. 41, but we were only detoured for less than a minute. And as it turned out, we were only a few blocks north of our intended exit anyway. As we neared the fair grounds, Kelly called, saying there were good parking spots in the second row.

We pulled in, found a close parking spot and met Kelly and his Dad just outside the fairgrounds. There was some confusion at the ticket stand as a rumor spread that the booth had run out of dollar bills so we were trying to figure out a way to pay for all our tickets with a exact change. But it turned out that the rumor was just that—a rumor. We all got in with change and proceeded inside.


Once inside, we started past the primary exhibit area, like we do every year, and headed towards the back of the hall where they house the swap meet. We pass the obligatory food stalls and walk into a nearly empty back hall.

We looked around.


No swap meet.

Slow panic starts to build as we search around and find one of the side loading dock doors to the hall open and people milling in and out. Through the door we could see another building that people were entering and leaving and it looked like they had moved the swap meet to a separate building this year. Odd, but perhaps they had more people and needed the space to house them.

We worked our way over there, picked a random starting direction (right) and started to work the rows.

This year was a very disappointing year.

It turned out there were fewer exhibitors this year and possibly the reason for the change of location was to mask that. Usually there are three huge areas in the back of the main exhibit hall for the swap meet, but the building they held the swap meet in this year was about half the size usually set aside for this.

It also turned out there was less interesting equipment. For the first year no one ended up buying a computer, although there was a very interesting military spec 486 PC (which turned out to be the only interesting computer this year, unlike last year (of which I didn't write about sadly) were someone hacked up a GRiD pentop computer to run Linux but the price was too high). It was a portable (read: luggable) in an Army Green metal case, removable harddrive, detatchable keyboard that fastened to the front to form a lid and came with I think 8M RAM. was a fairly standard PC inside even though at first I thought it was a piece of test equipment. The asking price was a bit high, and upon investigation, the power transformer was too hot to keep it running although it was very tempting. I wanted to buy it for use as area51 the firewall/NAT server I want to reset up.

We did however, come across more IBM PS/2 keyboards (which are the keyboard to have—everything else is crap) at one table. Not only IBM PS/2, but black IBM PS/2 with the pencil eraser mouse between the G and H keys. Between the five of us, we bought all the black IBM PS/2 keyboards. You can never have enough of them. They're indestructable, feel wonderful and you can bludgeon lusers with them. Perfect for the BOFH in your life.

The only other interesting thing was a huge UPS (on the order of 900W) that Mark scored for only $25, still in working condition.

Other than that, nothing.

All in all, a very dissapointing HAM fest this year.


Home. Much needed sleep.

Then work.


Sunday, February 04, 2001

Two Dollars

One of the techs here at The Company just got a talking to. Apparently, it is not appropriate to state that the Microsoft NT servers go up and down more often than a two dollar whore.

Random CVS Notes

I've been thinking of running CVS so I can check source code out from home to work on it elsewhere (oh, say, like from work!). Via camworld I came across this:

- cvs sucks. But it sucks less than anything else. Be prepared for weirdness, but don't panic– there are *so* many people using it, the weirdness is likely relatively harmless or relatively easy to fix.

Random CVS notes

Uhhh …

Random Links and Green Lasers

Woo hoo! It's Links Night!

I already owned one green laser pointer. I bought a 2nd one specificly to take apart. I knew that there was a risk but I have been doing this for years (taking things apart that were not supposed to be) and have become very good at it. I don't care what anybody says, there ARE user serviceable parts inside. :)

Dissection of a Green Laser Pointer from Sam's Laser FAQ

This guy spent $350 to take apart a green laser. Ouch! Now I'm begining to feel as if I should have gotten that military spec 486 at the HAM fest.

Black Coolness

So I'm using the black IBM PS/2 keybaord and I'm finding that while it has a slightly “different” feel than the other one, it's still a nice feel that I like. Really like.

And it's so black, it's cool!

The New England Rubbish Deconstruction Society

So, it wanted to start in reverse, but we wanted to go forward? No big deal, we left the transmission there for just this class of problem. Our solution: “reverse-reverse”. To get rolling, we would start with the transmission in reverse, and the engine controls in "full gear" reverse. Once rolling we would switch both engine and transmission into a forward gear, in a process of complex coordination that deserved the “fire drill” name it got.

This was a four step process that had to be both done quickly and be coordinated between driver (controller of the shift lever) and motorman (throttle, and Johnson bar). At a signal, the motorman closed the throttle, and started moving the Johnson bar. (This was held from moving by a wing nut, which took pliers to budge). Once the throttle was closed, the driver would start to shift. The shift took time, as the crankshaft (with flywheel) was spinning not just at a different speed (like trying to shift a car without the clutch), but in the opposite direction. You had to use the synchronizer to help bring things to a stop. The motorman would announce that the bar was locked in place, and (in the eventually adopted system) the driver would open the throttle, once the shift was completed. We even managed to shift correctly some of the times during the race. We also blew a few, luckily without any real trauma to our engine. Our coupling system did take some significant knocks while learning to do this. Anything less than the motorcycle chain we chose would have parted.

While steam engines are not the best at containing all their fluids, ours seemed worse than usual. We discovered that the piston gland leaked, as, to a lesser extent, so did the cylinder end covers. Again, with the luxury of testing time, we were able to find the problem and after a bit of tightening, we were significantly reduce (but not eliminate) the leaks. We didn't have to put up with the power (and steam) losses they represented, because we didn't find them until we were actually racing.

Steam Car in a Day

I came across the The New England Rubbish Desconstruction Society; The NERDS, which is an American team that has appeared on the Brittish TV show Scrapheap Challenge (Junkyard Wars to those Brittishly challenged). Fascinating reading. The wet-sub. The steam powered car. Stuff that sounds so fun to do, and underscores just how much math and science it takes to have real fun.

Just reading this makes me realize just how little I really understand of mechanical engineering (as if I really needed reminding of that).

Monday, February 05, 2001

Fantasia Sleepiness

Slept an ungodly amount today. Still tired when I got up. Watched Fantasia and fell asleep.


I also realized that cheap DVD players are not worth it, as


e movi

too much.

Tuesday, February 06, 2001

Not quite so lazy day

Woke up rather early today, around noon (considering I work third shift, that's early). It's a beautiful day out today; not too cold, not too hot, not a cloud in the sky.

I finally got around to depositing paychecks, grabbed lunch and afterwards, started the much needed laundry. I also managed to play around a bit with the digital camera, as you can see.

Money laundering

During the laundry, I found I had inadverantly left some dollar bills in a pocket somewhere. I'm wondering if I'm now guilty of money laundering.

Thursday, February 08, 2001

A little diagram of Unix history

This diagram is only a very simplify unix history. There are a lot more unix like systems than those listed in this chart, maybe 10 times more ! Some years ago, every electronic company has it's own unix system. For example, my company was selling an unix, derivated from another one, and those two are not in this chart because there are too small. So this diagram is only the upper part of an iceberg, with a penguin on it ;-).

Unix History

It's simplified. It's also 9 feet in length! Three meters for those of you who are Imperially challenged. It makes a neat poster, although I'm not sure where I can hang a 9 foot poster.

“Spam, spam, spam, spam!”

Wallace said his site is being victimized by a “typo squatter,” a person or company that has registered various misspellings of Web addresses. In Wallace's case, a company called has registered the name “” (missing an “s”) that also launches multiple windows when someone tries to exit the site.

“Usually these are not reputable companies … I'm about to start taking legal action,” Wallace said.

“Spam King” leads new trend in annoying promotions

First reaction: Pot. Kettle. Black.

Second reaction: Ick. He's back.

Third reaction: “I'm in browser pop-up hell!”

Linux Kernel Graphing Project

I downloaded the code to generate a graph of the Linux kernel. The code downloaded is for the 2.4.0 kernel, but I run 2.0.x at home.

So I decided to see if it would work for the 2.0.x kernel. Sure enough, a few tweaks in the makefile to remove some sections that aren't in the 2.0.x kernel and about three hours later, the analysis phase is done (I did this at work were I have some serious horse power). I then generated the postscript files.

I generated the 6x6 display, which consisted of 36 sheets of 8.5" by 11" paper. Each file was approximately 12 megabytes in size.




Uncompressed, each file was 53 megabytes in size.

Good God Almighty!

I printed out the first two pages, and at 4'3" by 5'6" it's too small to make out any detail.

I then generated a 9x9 poster, making it 6'4.5" by 8'3" in size, and it's still too small!

Good Lord, how big do I need to make this thing?

Lily The Pink

This is a cute page. Shows what song was #1 the day you were born.

On my birthday, Marvin Gaye's I Heard it Through the Grapevine was the #1 song in the US. The Scaffold's Lily The Pink was the #1 song in the U.K. Who?

Friday, February 09, 2001

The Huge Linux Kernel Graph

I decided to generate a 15x15 poster of the Linux Kernel, which would make it 10'7.5" X 13'8" in size. It was just big enough to make out the detail, but there looks to be a bug in the software in that it generated all these smears across the page.

Shhh, don't let them in on it …

From the Internet's perspective, your computer was never on the Internet at all. If someone traces the connections back, the packets will all look like they came from the hijacked connection. This is especially useful when dealing with monitored conversations (see Echelon, Carnivore, the ultra-secret level-3 DeadMan monitoring stations that pepper the globe like icepick wounds in Trotsky's skull).

Note that I'm talking about taking over lower-level connections, *not* impersonating users to make it look like they sent an email or a Usenet post. That sort of stuff is relatively trivial. I'm talking about physical and data-link OSI-level takeover. I was going to use this very technique to send this post, but it takes finding a physical close computer that is running Win9x or “Win2K”, and the scanning program to find such a computer has not been ported to Windows 2000 (which is the program I am using to compose this article).)

Alien Internet Conspriracy

Uh, yea. Right.

Saturday, February 10, 2001

“Just missed her by that much … ”

I get into work and one of the tech staff, JW, comes over, asking me to join him on a smoke break. Even though I don't smoke, I usually join the other techs on smoke break—I mean, why should they get all the fun?

But I really didn't want to; I was tired and was still trying to get settled in at work. But JW persisted and I relented.

Came back a few minutes later, finished getting settled in (which involves signing into half a dozen different webservers to monitor the various monitoring tools and what not) and launched an instant messaging program (from my home computer—we're not allowed to run the AOL Instant Messaging software from work, but there was nothing stating we couldn't run it from home). It was then I discovered that my girlfriend Spring had just logged off and gone to bed.

Man, what a horrible way to start the night at work.



Very tired.

So tired I think I'll take lunch and fallllllllllllllllllllllllllllll


It's the politics that'll get ya …

Technically, the job here at The Company is very easy. Politically it's like walking through a mine field using a map of Chicago. I know I'm going to catch flak over an incident here.


It's not like there were any customers on the box. Jeeze …

Homebrew DSL

While reading Slashdot I came across a reference to homebrewing your own DSL connection. In theory, it's simple enough—you order an unconditioned copper pair from the phone company between the two points you want connected (and that will run you about $20/month), then you get the actual DSL equipment needed for either end, plug it in, and bam! Instant DSL connection.

Of course, that's theory. Here in The Real World things are much, much more complicated than that. It seems you have to check with your state (and possibly Federal) regulations for the type of copper lines you need; it also helps to know the lingo (or depending upon the phone company, the part number) and heaven help you if the Phone Cops, those Boys from Bell, ever find out you're getting DSL on the cheap.

Sunday, February 11, 2001

XML Pointers (Yes, Virginia, they do exist)

These specifications seem to be addressing what I'm attempting to do on my own, but from a quick glance over them, it seems to be mostly referencing parts of a document as per the XML structure of the document (as in, give me the contents of the third <P> tag) which isn't all that bad but the URLs get rather ugly, rather fast.

That's not to say that URLs aren't getting ugly now, but in trying to print these out, or even type them in is getting difficult to say the least.

Days of Confused

I'm getting horribly confused as to what days are what. I've been trying to update the journal here and it's been a rather painful experience trying to remember what I did on which day, mainly due to my working schedule.


Tuesday, February 13, 2001

Outtage, Part II

I talked to Velotel today about my IDSL connectivity problems. I also finished and ran the program to process the data I've been collecting. And the stats aren't … well … they aren't all that good:

Threshold:                      5s
Outtages:                     862
Total time:                    13d 12h 24m  9s
Percentage down:              1.037292%

Total outtage:                  3h 21m 54s
Minimum outtage:                6s
Maximum outtage:               20s
Average outtage:               14s
Std. Deviation:               3.354110
Total time between outtage:    13d  9h  2m 15s
Minimum time between outtage:  25s
Maximum time between outtage:  25m 26s
Average time between outtage:  22m 22s
Std. Deviation:               119.640103

(Threshold is the outtage time below which I ignore for the generation of this report, as to remove the possibility of network congestion if I'm download large files)

So I mailed those results off, as well as the raw data file. Now I sit back and wait results.

Wednesday, February 14, 2001

Happy Valentine's Day

Happy Valentine's Day ... Straight form the Heart!

Thursday, February 15, 2001

Russian dolls

JV, fellow cow-orker, installed Windows 2000 under VMWare. He then proceeded to setup Samba between Linux and the virtual Windows 2000 machine, so he could play MP3s using Windows 2000.

Next step: setting up MAME under Windows 2000 so he can emulate old video games under a virtual machine running under Linux.


To sleep or shop?

I get home about an hour late from work, intent on going directly to sleep. But my roommate Rob was up and mentioned wanting to go to CompUSA.


I planned on going to CompUSA yesturday to get a digital camera for Spring but didn't get up in time. And I wasn't sure if I would make it today if I went to bed right then.

I didn't get to bed until nearly 1:00 pm.

But I did get the digital camera and mailed off to Spring.

Second chance

I woke up in horror and lo, my alarm clock read 11:47 pm.

I'm supposed to be at work by 11:30 pm.

I begin panicing, wondering why both my alarm clock and beeper failed to go off. My alarm clock, okay. Over the past few weeks I've been missetting it more and more often, to the am time in stead of the pm time. So that might explain why the alarm clock didn't go off. But the beeper? That's set correctly, since it saved me yesturday, and I hadn't reset it.

I check my beeper, which I was wearing to bed (I had been napping you see, just prior to going to work) and I had been paged. Was I beeped? I though. Did the page come in and interfere with the alarm? My pager is set to vibrate upon a page, but the alarm sounds off with a shrill sound. The page itself was a garbled text message but what there was of it lead me to believe that someone was expecting to meet me outside in the parking lot.

I stumble my way through the house, and the front door (which is a nice set of double doors) is unlocked. I don't think anything of this as I clumsily make my way outdoors.

Of course no one is there.

I head back in, and as I'm closing the door this small lap rat of a dog comes shooting into the house. I start yelling at it to leave and just before it's about to disappear into my room it stops, turns around, and as I'm still yelling at it, comes back and leaves out the door. I slam the door shut.

At that point, my alarm clock goes off.


I found myself in bed, horribly confused. I look over at the alarm clock, which reads 10:58 pm.

I need more sleep.

Friday, February 16, 2001

Whatever …

“Battlefield Earth”? Well, where do you start? Can we overlook that it was made for $80 million, and only recouped 21 million? This movie is a nightmare, the low point of John Travolta's career. The low point of Hollywood cinema. Rumor has it that L Ron Hubbard ( creepy Scientology guy ) came back from the dead just to tell Travolta what an idiot he was. This makes “Look Who's Talking” and all the talking dogs sequels which followed look like “Citizen Kane” by comparison. This makes Ed Wood look competent.

Whatever-Dude::When Movies Go Bad: Part One

In fact, the entire site is hilarious. Cynical, sarcastic, what's not to like?

Saturday, February 17, 2001

Offices of times past

I'm not sure why the thought came up, but I'm thinking back to the time I worked on the Math Department at FAU. While technically I shared the office with one or two other people, they were rare, if ever, there and I practically had the office all to myself.

And it wasn't a small office either—a decent 15' X 30' office, filled with books on every conceivable topic, a real blackboard, beautiful desk lamps (I would often turn off the overhead flourescents and light the office with nothing but the desk lamps) and an SGI workstation pretty much to myself.

Okay, the only down side was the lack of windows. But man, it still was a cool office.

Twisty maze of directories all alike

One of the techs called me over to check something out. I get there and he's showing me a recursive listing of a directory on one of the Unix systems here. And it's going deeper, and deeper and deeper and deeper and deeper and …

“Hmmm,” I said. “Looks like it's cyclically linked.”

“It's not symbolically linked,” the tech said.

“Could be hard linked,” I said. I did a listing to show the inode nubmer. Then went down another level, and did another listing. Different inode numbers. “Guess not.”

“Guess the customer had a buggy script,” said the tech.

“Guess so,” I said.

I think it finally bottomed out around 40 or so levels.

Collapsing tumblers

I had a long discussion with Mark about this journal. Specifically, about how to handle multiple tumbler requests.

Generally, I'm trying to support a generalized syntax to select single entries, such as “2000/2/3,” but I can also handle ranges, like “2000/2/3-18” or even “2000/2-7/6.” I can even handle multiple requests, such as “2000/2/3-18,4/8,5/1-5/10” but the problem is how to handle overlapped requests? How should I handle something like “2000/2/3-18,2/15-20?” Or even something as silly as ”2000/2/1-10,10-1?”

Mark was of the opinion to give the user what they typed, and if they get repeated entries, so be it. I was more of the opinion that ranges should be collapsed, so that “2000/2/3-18,2/15-20” be collapsed as if you selected “2000/2/3-20.” Mark didn't agree, and I don't fully agree with him.

His next suggestion was to make it an option for either case.

For right now, I'm not allowing multiple selections.

I want to get this code out someday!

Sunday, February 18, 2001


If you are currently with America Online, please don't bother to sign up! You have been warned…

This advice will save both you and us needless frustration. We are incompatible with your computer system as screwed-up by AOL configuration software and You. In fact, a lawsuit is in the works against AOL. So be warned, NO REFUNDS or CREDITS will be given.

As a general rule, America Online users are not computer savvy or it seems, capable of the level of technical sophistication necessary to operate a computer outside of an AOL environment. Sign-up

This is the type of ISP that Mark would like.

More on CVS

I finally got around to setting up CVS. I find that I like being able to easily (with one command) snarf down code from a central location (like my home system here) anywhere (such as work), hack away, and then with one command, ship the code back to the central location (home).

What I don't like is the inability (unless I haven't read the documentation enough) to update the change log per file, instead of just one change log for every file that's changed.

The code I'm writing is still in serious development phase, and so this constant checking-in and checkout-out is making the revisions pile up.

Perhaps I'll have to rething my log updating stragedy.

Tuesday, February 20, 2001

Waiting. Waiting. Waiting.

I heard back from Velotel about my IDSL problems. NorthPoint has yet to get back with them on the problem.

So I wait …

Wednesday, February 21, 2001

“Fresh domains! Get your fresh domains!”

This is amazing! A list of all (or just a large number thereof) of domains that have expired today.

Updated daily!


Lorem ipsum

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit, sed diam nonummy nibh euismod tincidunt ut laoreet dolore magna aliquam erat volutpat. Ut wisi enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ulliam corper suscipit lobortis nisl ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis autem veleum iriure dolor in hendrerit in vulputate velit esse molestie consequat, vel willum lunombro dolore eu feugiat nulla facilisis at vero eros et accumsan et iusto odio dignissim qui blandit praesent luptatum zzril delenit augue duis dolore te feugait nulla facilisi.

Li Europan lingues es membres del sam familie. Lor separat existentie es un myth. Por scientie, musica, sport etc., li tot Europa usa li sam vocabularium. Li lingues differe solmen in li grammatica, li pronunciation e li plu commun vocabules. Omnicos directe al desirabilit^! de un nov lingua franca: on refusa continuar payar custosi traductores. It solmen va esser necessi far uniform grammatica, pronunciation e plu sommun paroles.

Ma quande lingues coalesce, li grammatica del resultant lingue es plu simplic e regulari quam ti del coalescent lingues. Li nov lingua franca va esser plu simplic e regulari quam li existent Europan lingues. It va esser tam simplic quam Occidental: in fact, it va esser Occidental. A un Angleso it va semblar un simplificat Angles, quam un skeptic Cambridge amico dit me que Occidental es.

I look like a cheap s1ut?

From: []
Sent: Wednesday, February 21, 2001 7:09 AM
To: sconner@XXXXXXXXX
Subject: What the hell are you doing?

WHATS YOUR PROBLEM?  We break up for 2 weeks and then Brad sends
me this url:   What the hell are you doing?
You look like a cheap s1ut!  Is that what you want?  Everyone to
think you are a WH0RE?  Fine if that's the deal, then I'm gunna
send this email to every person that I can.  Now the world
will know exactly how skanky you are!

                              BURN IN HELL BlTCH!
                              Love Eric

Go here and see what a WH0RE my ex girlfriend is:

If you got this letter by mistake and want me to take you off of my list,
click reply and include the word REMOVE on the subject line.

One of the more intriguing pieces of spam I've received.

At work no less.

I've given no one my work email address, other than my fellow cow-orkers and yet, I get this crap. I'm begining to think that The Company sells email addresses.

Thursday, February 22, 2001

Finding God (well, a goddess)

I first stumbled across GoddessKRING maybe four years ago from a mailing list where I found out about this odd public access cable show in Seattle. One of the members of the list put up a page on his website (which no longer exists. Pitty, it was a cool site). Another member did a photo shoot of GoddessKRING.

And now, just by randomly surfing around, I find GoddessKRING's website.

Now the question is: how come I can remember trivial stuff like this?

Coke Head

This sucks.

I'm wide awake.

And I'm craving a Coke.

“I am a coke head!”

Grounded Coffee

“Got enough coffee there, Rob?

“Yea, why? Dear God! You have enough coffee there?”


“Wait a second. You don't drink coffee.”


“And I've been here a year and a half … ”

“Do you really want to know how old it is?”


Liquid layout problems

Mark called this evening with a few questions about webservers. He's having to write one for a project he's working on at work (to basically stream MP3s to a software component they don't have the source code to and it wants to talk to a webserver before it'll play an MP3).

Talk then shifted to the journal and the new layout I'm working on. Okay, so I'm following the Upgrade Campaign Jeffrey Zeldman is spearheading and I've done my part, using HTML 4.01 strict and CCS (importing it on the sly so Netscape 4x doesn't crash). But Mark runs Windows NT at 640x480 (yes, he really does. Surprised me when he first mentioned it) and the page isn't laying out as intented—two columns side by side. Instead the right side is slipping down below the left, giving it a somewhat weird look. Spring reported the same thing. I made the font smaller (in fact, I specified it, whereas before I didn't) but Mark was still having problems with layout and expressed dismay that it did that.

I told him that was the result of using a liquid layout, but he asked if there was anything that could be done to stop that. Funny, coming from a guy who isn't a web designer and usually could care less how a site looks. At least the site is readable, if a bit funky at low resolutions.

He then mentioned that it should be possible to get the screen size of the client browser, but I'm not aware of anything the browser sends to the server that would allow me to determine that. Mark assured me that it was possible, but in the years I've been doing web programming (okay, mostly backend stuff with little reguard to the visual display of pages) I haven't heard of that at all.

Friday, February 23, 2001

Why haven't I heard of this?

I mention the problems Mark is having displaying the journal to JV, my fellow cow-orker, and he mentions that it should be possible to get the screen resolution of the browser since he's heard it's possible.

Why has everyone who doesn't do web work heard of this but me?

I will definitely have to investigate this.

“We're the phone company, we don't have to care about DSL … ”

This is at the heart of why Verizon cancelled its purchase of Northpoint. It is why Northpoint is suing Verizon, and why some Verizon customers are suing over delayed DSL deployments. The ILECs actually WANT to delay DSL deployment. They don't want the technology to succeed too quickly because that would mean massive upgrades to field gear and cuts into profits. The only reason why any ILEC built out a DSL product line was because of competitive pressure from CLECs and that darned Telecommunications Act of 1996, which they wanted so much at the time but now hate.

Via Robot Wisdom, Why Your Phone Company Hates DSL

Now that he mentions it …

I was happy with ISDN when I had it, even if the price was outrageous (although I wasn't paying for it). When BellSouth first offered ISDN, it was at a flat rate, but that didn't last when they had to provide universal ISDN service. So metered service came in to cover the installation costs to places like (need to find a remote Florida city).

But I lost my ISDN connection. Or rather, the party that was paying for it decided to pay for it no longer and the hours I keep on the Internet, I couldn't afford to pay those bills. So out it went.

I just hope my IDSL service stays up …

New Jersey Syle

About a year later we hired a young kid from Pittsburgh named Jamie Zawinski. He was not much more than 20 years old and came highly recommended by Scott Fahlman. We called him “The Kid.” He was a lot of fun to have around: not a bad hacker and definitely in a demographic we didn't have much of at Lucid. He wanted to find out about the people at the company, particularly me since I had been the one to take a risk on him, including moving him to the West Coast. His way of finding out was to look through my computer directories - none of them were protected. He found the EuroPAL paper, and found the part about worse is better. He connected these ideas to those of Richard Stallman, whom I knew fairly well since I had been a spokesman for the League for Programming Freedom for a number of years. JWZ excerpted the worse-is-better sections and sent them to his friends at CMU, who sent them to their friends at Bell Labs, who sent them to their friends everywhere.

Worse is Better

This is the history of the rather famous Computer Science paper “Worse is Better” and the context in which it was oringally intended.

And yes, it's that Jamie Zawinski.

Hubba hubba

Just to have my ass whooped by her in Quake.

JV, follow cow-orker on seeing Stevie Case, Game Designer

And to think she's dating John Romero.

Saturday, February 24, 2001


Reading my email at work, I see this one from E, my boss:

[Out department] just observed a momentary connectivity problem with the [city 1] data center. This was caused by the [city 2] circuit bouncing and traffic being momentarily routed through [city 3]. The circuit restored itself and appears normal at this time, however the [primary] NOC has opened [a trouble ticket] and is monitoring this circuit for additional problems.

I don't know why this upset me so much. I mean, the other email I got tonight was much worse than this (again, critical of the work done on third shift, like what else is new) but I think it has something to do with a misconception of just how the Internet works.

The closest city mentioned is well over 600 miles away, on The Company backbone (technically, we're on The Company backbone, but being way down here in South Florida, it's more of a spur than a backbone. A fast spur yes, but a spur nonetheless). And on a network the size we have here (even the network here in Boca Raton is a site to see and I don't think it's the largest one The Company has) it's expected there to be some transitory glitches. I mean, why else have redundant routes?

I think what bugs me is that most of our clients (heck, even our fellow employees) don't realize that TCP/IP is an unreliable (read: best effort) protocol and there are no guarentees on delivery of packets. And that if the routers are configured correctly (and we have some pretty sharp network engineers working here—I mean, The Company does run a backbone here) that one router doing down won't effect the connectivity (since there are redundant routes throughout the routing mesh). Okay, it may take a few minutes, but that's to be expected as routing tables restabalize.

Let me say that again: it may take a few minutes!

Like email delivery. We get calls from customers complaining that it's taking fifteen minutes for email to get through. Thankfully I'm not on the phones least I be tempted to tell these people that email is not an instant messaging protocol and that it's faster than the alternative, the snail mail postal service. Depending upon network congestion, it may take several hours for email to get through.

I'm fond of saying “Email is not FTP.” I may have to amend that to be: “Email is not FTP nor IM!”

This is also related to an incident that happened a few days ago. Just as 1st shift was coming in, we lost connectivity with a machine we manage over in Europe. Doing a traceroute showed the loss of connectivity happening within Cable and Wireless, about three hops into their network. My thought—okay, it's not us, just inform the techs that we can't reach the machine in question and it's outside our hands.

Yet JM, 1st shift worker, came in, and opened a trouble ticket with our primary NOC, even though the outtage was in a different backbone several hops inside. For some reason that bothered me too, I think for similar reasons. Given the amount of email we get about outtages of routers all along our backbone you'd think our networking staff would have enough work just on our equipment; why bother adding to the case load about other companies' equipment? But alas, JM did it anway, as part of the CYA attitude around here.


More grumbles

Along those lines, a webserver yesturday had a very bad hard drive crash and The Company has been having some difficulty in doing a proper restore (having to rebuild an entire server, and primarily doing a network based recover when a (poorly announced, but announced nonetheless) router reboot caused it to fail part way through (or so I'm lead to believe), so it's taking some time to get everything back.

But clients are complaining about The Company loosing some, but not all, the files. And complainint bitterly. Okay, fine. We had a hardware failure. Whole server blown out of the water. Recovery taking some time, and yes, there was a window where files may have been lost between the last good backup and the failure, if any files were updated during that window.

But come on—you have a hosted website and you (or the company that did your website) don't have a current backup yourself? What's this you say? The hosting company is responsible for backups? They say they backup? Here, let me fill you in on something: THWACK! Don't ever count on the hosting company to keep current backups. It would be better (and probably faster recovery) for you to keep a backup of your site and restore it yourself. Even if the hosting company keeps good backups, they're usually so large it takes several hours to recover the data to begin with.

Microsoft rethink

Our computers are big and powerful now, and at AAAS I came to the conclusion that Moore's First Law has about 50 years to run, while there are ways to circumvent Moore's Second Law (this will be in my reports). That argues enough computer power to make anything run fast. The cycles and memory will be out there. Perhaps it is time to START OVER with OS. Heck, I'd like to see Niklaus Wirth's Oberon and Modula 2 come back. I would even be interested in an OS that was written in and ran ADA as its assembly language. We are no longer constrained by memory and and cycles limits. I think it is time to break free from not only Microsoft but unintelligible code like C (which means we break free of LINUX and the other UNIX type systems too).

Jerry Pournelle on Microsoft and Linux

The page will move in a few days, so if the above link doesn't work, try this one.

Wow. I really didn't expect Jerry Pournelle to come out and say this, seeing how he tends to get personal tech support from CEOs and is an active Microsoft supporter. The times, they are a'changing.

Following the scent

Leaving work I ran into one of the techs and we started chatting a bit about the problems with the webserver we were having. I gave my rant about the clients.

“I know, and you know,” he said, “that they have a backup copy of the site on their development machines.”

“But why don't they just upload the copy they have then?”

“Because they can bitch at us and demand money back for lost services.”

“So their business isn't important enough to get the website back up and running quickly?”

“Webservers are still unreliable. It's expected they'll go down. Give it several more years, but right now, it's expected they'll go down.”

“Uh … ”

“And further more,” he said, pausing to take another drag on the cigarette he was smoking, “the dealers make out.” The server in question is used mostly be resellers—we don't deal with the owners of the sites in question, the dealers do. “They'll bitch at us for a refund, but do you think they'll refund their customers' money?” Another drag. “No, they'll keep billing 'em! Pocket the money.”


“You know, The Company is going to loose a lot of money over this.”

I had forgotten the cardinal sin learned in the 70s: Follow The Money!

Why I haven't heard of it

I'm still not convinced. I wrote a quick program to act as a webserver (it serves up the same page reguardless of what you request) and had it log the request the client sends it. I got this from the most widely used browser:

GET /~spc/bm/ HTTP/1.1
Accept: image/gif, image/x-xbitmap, image/jpeg, image/pjpeg, */*
Accept-Language: en-us
Accept-Encoding: gzip, deflate
User-Agent: Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 5.0; Windows 98; DigExt)
Connection: Keep-Alive

Nothing about screen size or resolution as far as I can see.

God, are we lazy!

Transcript of an AIM session between my roommate Rob and myself:

azagy214: so where do you want to go for lunch?

spc476: Hmmm …

spc476: Restaurant?

azagy214: any particular one?

spc476: One with edible food?

azagy214: care to narrow it done more?

azagy214: oopps done = down

spc476:(oh, check out 8-)

spc476: Diner?

azagy214: cute

azagy214: diner works for me

spc476: Okay. When?

azagy214: now?

spc476: Sure.

spc476: I'll be over there in a few seconds …

azagy214: ok =)

I should mention that we were about twenty feet apart.

Heh … why not?



“Hey Sean. It's Jeff.” It's my friend JeffC. “Can I ask a favor?”

“Sure. What's up?”

“Sarah and I are moving,” he said. Sarah is his fiancée. “And we need some help.” D'oh! “You only have to help unload the truck.”

I haven't been to sleep since 9:00 pm yesturday. It is now 3:00 pm. I'm still wide awake, and for the first time since October, I don't have to work tonight. Hey, how bad could it be? “Sure. Get me get dressed and I'll be right over.”

Famous last words

“See you later, Rob.” I said.

“What's up?”

“I'm off to help a friend move,” I said. “I only have to help unload the truck.”

“Watch it! They could be moving to a third floor apartment,” he said.

“Yea … right. See you later.”

Twenty-eight stairs

A bazillion boxes.

Twenty-eight stairs.

Three floors.

Two landings.

And one full truck.

Yea, right, indeed.

Plumbing lessons

My friend Kurt (same one I went haunted house hunting with last year) arrived to help help us movie. He had just finished a class in checking back-flow prevention valves, which is actually more interesting than it sounds.

Kurt is currently a high school English teacher who is burned out—long hours a poor pay have taken their toll on him, so he's getting into the family business of plumbing. Only it's not plumbing as in plumbing repair, it's more like plumbing engineering.

Between hauling boxes and furniture up to the apartment he would stop and explain how back-flow prevention valves work. Basically there are three chambers. The first one is at a high pressure, say, 40 PSI. It hits a plate separating the first and second chambers and that plate has a spring holding it in place, but the spring has a much less pressure, say, 5 PSI. That means the water from the first chamber enters the second chamber but at a reduced pressure, which is the difference between the water presure of the first chamber minus the pressure of the plate; in this example, the water in the second chamber is now 35 PSI. There's another plate between the second and third chambers, and this one supplies even less pressure, say 1 PSI, so the water in the final chamber will only be 34 PSI.

Now, in the bottom of the second chamber is a diaphram, and water from the first chamber is directly allowed to fill the area below the diaphram. This pushes the diaphram up, because the pressure above is lower than below (35 PSI above, 40 below). Now, if the presure in the third chamber rises, it shuts the plate, causing the pressure to rise in the second chamber. This pushes the diaphram down, opening a valve to release the water directly out of the system instead of letting it build up into the system.

Quite interesting. And you have to be careful in checking some of these back-flow valves, especially the larger ones, as they can quite literally explode in your face if you're not careful.

Now a word from our sponsor …

Price of truck rental: $39.95
Price of pizza for friends: $40.00
Price of dolly from back of truck: $5.00
Price of passing out on floor from sheer exhaustion: Priceless

Sunday, February 25, 2001

Pain. Oh pain.

Pain. Oh pain.


Rob and I are driving to dinner when I take my glasses off, put them on my leg and start rubbing my eyes (I'm still a bit tired). He takes off suddenly and my glasses go flying into the back seat. I reach behind the seat and start fishing around for them.

“What's up?” asked Rob.

“My glasses flew into the back seat,” I said. “I'm trying to find them.” Rob turns on the overhead light. I'm still fishing.

“Here,” he said, handing me a flashlight.

“Uh, Rob. That doesn't help.” He looked perplexed. “I'm like Thelma from Scooby-Doo—I'm blind without my glasses.”


Monday, February 26, 2001

US Hegemony

This loathing quickly communicated itself to President Nixon. He was personally beholden to Donald Kendall, the president of Pepsi Cola, who had given him his first corporate account when, as a young lawyer, he had joined John Mitchell's New York firm. A series of Washington meetings, held within 11 days of Allende's electoral victory, essentially settled the fate of Chilean democracy. After discussions with interested parties, and with CIA director Richard Helms, Kissinger went with Helms to the Oval Office. Helms's notes of the meeting show that Nixon wasted little breath in making his wishes known. Allende was not to assume office. “Not concerned risks involved. No involvement of embassy. $10,000,000 available, more if necessary. Full-time job—best men we have … Make the economy scream. 48 hours for plan of action.”

Declassified documents show that Kissinger—who had previously neither known nor cared about Chile, describing it offhandedly as “a dagger pointed at the heart of Antarctica”—took seriously this chance to impress his boss. A group was set up in Langley, Virginia, with the express purpose of running a “two track” policy for Chile: one the ostensible diplomatic one and the other—unknown to the State Department or the US ambassador to Chile, Edward Korry—a strategy of destabilisation, kidnap and assassination, designed to provoke a military coup.

Via my dog wants to be on the radio, Why has he got away with it?

Reading articles like this explains why the United States isn't well liked overseas. I think I'll just remain quiet on this; I'd rather not have the Secret Service pay a visit.

Wednesday, February 28, 2001


Blah. Headache. Stuffy nose. Lethergy. Work.


The down side of selling out

… If OSDN and/or VA collapsed someday then the OSDN web sites would not be simply released back into the wild but rather be liquidated as assets to the highest bidder, and you can bet the new owners would gladly run these sites into the ground for every last penny they can quickly earn from them. So at least you can be glad the original founders of these web sites still work here and they care a lot about how this web site works for you, the community. And if we're not able to turn a profit here despite our best efforts, whoever ends up grabbing our helm here will most likely toss this whole crew overboard, and I can assure you that the new crew will care far less about "community" then we ever did….

Kurt Gray, lead programmer for OSDN's ad system about Making Ad Banners Suck Less

Okay, so the Slashdot Crew got several million when they sold out to VA Linux. This is something that hasn't actually been addressed all that much and to a degree, does concern me. I mean, will Slashdot be around in another five years? Will CmdrTaco still be around with spelling and grammar mistakes? Will he bolt once his options vest? Or will the entire thing collapse and be run into the ground?

More importantly, will anybody care at that point?


Spring and I were talking about resumés this morning. She's agreed to help a friend rewrite his and we were going over our own respective ones. I told her that originally, mine had as the objective: “To obtain gainful employment to satisfy my friends' inability to deal with me not working.”

She countered that her original objective was “to gain a convincing front of employment to obscure my acquisiton of wealth in the drug trade.” Not that she's actively in the drug trade! It's a joke. Ha ha.

Laugh damn it!

Economics of Love

Spring and I also ended up talking about economics and the gold standard. I had just finished reading The Power of Gold: The History of an Obsession by Peter Bernstein and I learned that the Gold Standard was only around for aproximately 100 years. Before that, gold was actually circulated as coins, and it was recently that paper money backed by gold was employed in the West (although it had been going on for centuries over in China). So we were chatting about that, and about economics in general (for instance: get cancer? GNP goes up. Car crash? GNP goes up. Volunteer? GNP drops).

Nerdness knows no bounds.

Comics gone and forgotten

I don't know if you've ever had the chance to catch this … this movie, but if you did, it probably means that you wake up really really early on Sunday morning with nothing better to do than watch the local unaffiliated station's lame sci-fi movie show. Film stars Clint Walker as some guy who gets harassed by a Bulldozer, and Robert Urich as I don't remember what, because I haven't bothered to watch this heap of failure a second time 'round.


Truely bad, and I mean bad, comic books from history past. And yes, that's where they belong.

Thursday, March 01, 2001

Gone but not quite forgotten

More from Gone and Forgotten:

“I am Jena, villainous lackey with a heart of gold and possible love interest for the hero of the eponymous and godawful story STAR-KING, the backup feature from Amazing Wahoo. I only appeared in the last three panels of the story, and even then I was so strung out on cheap talcum-cut cocaine that I barely remember it at all.

Gone and Forgotten: Karate Kid

“Except me get it up me monkey poop-chute hard in Crisis On Infinite Earths. Sugar and Spike get more air time. Me die off-panel and then never be made come back. Now me dance for quarters in comic-book limbo, and sometime me get drunk with Mandrill and Detective Chimp. Me sad monkey. Monkey very sad. Boo-hoo.”

Gone and Forgotten: Atlas Comics Part II

A-Hem. “Bwa-hahahahahaha!” Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? I do … for I am the Shadow! No, seriously, I am … knock it off! Like a lot of characters, I made a comeback during the flood of Batman popularity in the mid-1960's. The costume was part of the package deal. Hey, stop laughing, Archie comics really treated me well.

What? What!? Archie is a perfectly respectable publication for super heroes to appear in. I mean, they have the Shield, the Jaguar … um … look, I'll be honest, by the time the 60's ran around, I really torn through my vast personal empire. I was lucky to get this gig. And at least I wasn't as bad off as these guys …

Gone and Forgotten

Go. Just read. Else I'll end up quoting the entire site.

Mmmmmmm … donuts

“There are donuts available,” I said to JV, my fellow cow-orker. “Over by JW's desk.”

His eyes grew wide. “Ooooooh, Krispy Kremes.” He rushed out the office door and came back a few minutes later. “These are the best donuts.” I nodded agreeement. Mom taught me never to talk with my mouth full. “They're even better fresh from the factory.”

“It's hard to believe they can get better than this,” I said.

“They are.”

We both slipped into blissful Krispy Kreme comas.

Danger Will Robinson!

“Hey,” said Rob when I got home. “What time does Compooosa open?”

“Oh no.”


“I think 10:00 am. I hate you.”

“You want to go, don't you?”

“Yea.” Sleep can wait.

Lock, stock and two trumpeting elephants

So Rob and I are at CompUSA when we come across a joystick and car wheel display.

Rob starts playing with it—suddenly we hear tires squealing and what sounds like a wounded elephant trampling a car. The steering wheel controller starts bucking wildly about.

“Cool!” said Rob.

I grab one of the joysticks and pull the trigger. Instantly a gun fires and the joystick kicks back.

“Cool!” I said.

I try the joystick next to it. Same reaction. I grab both and starting firing two fisted.

Rob starts poking buttons on the steering wheel.

Joysticks and wheels are bucking, guns are firing, tires screeching, elephants trumpeting and customers are staying as far away as possible.

We have entirely too much fun.

“Don't I know you?”

Rob is checking out the lap tops at CompUSA and I'm checking out this cute blond in the isle next to us. She's talking to one of the sales droids so it's hard to see her face, but the rear is nice; her end does justify the jeans, so to speak.

She then turns around. Oh my, I think. I think I know her!

She stares at me like she's going Oh my, I think I know him!




“Sean! Oh my god!” We hug each other; introductions are made—Rob this is Kaye, Kaye this is Rob, etc., etc. She finishes buying her new laptop and we all head out to the Chinese restaurant to catch up on the past few years since we both worked at Armigeron Information Services, Inc.

We were lucky that we caught her—she's moving to Orlando in a few days, which sucks (well, not for her, but for her friends down here).

Friday, March 02, 2001

Catapult your way to success

I came across, a site where you too, can learn how to build a trebuchet, a type of catapult. The guy running the site is another one of these engineer types with way too much time on his hands. Way too much. And as I was going through his site, I couldn't help but think of an episode of Northern Exposure, where Chris, the artist philosopher disk jockey of the radio station, builds a catapult to fling a cow.

Man, I miss that show.

Windows braindeath (like what else is new?)

I'm trying to load a page with frames under Microsoft Internet Explorer, and one of the pages can't be displayed because the server is down. Now, does IE display an error in that frame? Nay! It does something even more stupid! It displays the error on the entire page, rendering it useless!

Grrrrrrrr …‥

The Cheese Shop

Our department is responsible for monitoring the network and servers for our portion of The Company Network. Basically, we watch the output from several monitoring tools and call the sysadmins when something goes down.

Our primary monitoring tool was taken away from our department and spun off into its own department, so we're no longer responsible for monitoring the output from that, which is good, because the day the new department is formed the tool stops working because of a failed upgrade. It's been two days now.

That's okay, because we have multiple monitoring software. Only two other packages we use to monitor the Windows NT servers both crash. So there is no way to monitor the Windows NT servers.

But that's still okay, because we have monitoring tools for the Unix servers. Only we've been told that it's not terribly reliable. We certainly seem to be devoid of monitoring tools in a monitoring department.

Welcome to the Cheese Shop.

I'm now an office supply manager!


I got some snail junk mail today addressed to either SEAN CONNER or OFFICE SUPPLY MANAGER, CONMAN LABORATORIES. Heh. Hand written even.

Now, obviously, they got my name and address from Network Solutions, as that's the registrar for

Now, if you do a query on my domain, you get this following bit of disclaimer from Network Solutions:

The Data in Network Solutions' WHOIS database is provided by Network Solutions for information purposes, and to assist persons in obtaining information about or related to a domain name registration record. Network Solutions does not guarantee its accuracy. By submitting a WHOIS query, you agree that you will use this Data only for lawful purposes and that, under no circumstances will you use this Data to: (1) allow, enable, or otherwise support the transmission of mass unsolicited, commercial advertising or solicitations via e-mail (spam); or (2) enable high volume, automated, electronic processes that apply to Network Solutions (or its systems). Network Solutions reserves the right to modify these terms at any time. By submitting this query, you agree to abide by this policy., Shaker Heights, OH

So the company that sent this out definitely abided by (1), and I guess by handwriting my address on the envelope, they can claim conformance by (2) above as well. But I feel sorry for the poor person who had to sit there hand addressing all these letters from Ohio.

And an old fogey to boot!

I also received a notice of a public hearing to rezone the northeast corner of Sample Rd and Lyons Rd (I live just across the street) from a PUD (Planned Unit Development) to a PCD (Planned Commerce District). As in the letter:

The rezoning would allow a car dealership, a gas station with a convenience store and car wash, and a Walgreens Drug Store with a drive-thru window.

Uh, guys? It's already a car dealership! There's a gas station with a convenience store on the northwest corner! There's a convenience store on the southeast corner! And there's a Wal*Mart's a mile away to the west! Hellooooooo!

Sigh. Does this mean I'm getting old?

Saturday, March 03, 2001

Bitch moan whine

I have been advised that a total outage of network connectivity occurred at around 5:00AM [of the 2nd]. I was not notified of any such incident, nor was our Networking staff. I find no reference to it on the Network Status Page.

Can you clarify what happened that might lead someone to think that there was an outage, when apparently no such outage was noticed in the [department]?

Email from the Boss

I'm sitting here slightly depressed and partly it's because it's too quiet here at The Cheese Shop and I'm paranoid that I might be missing something, like, oh a network outage or something. There's also a concern here in The Cheese Shop (The Cheese Shop. I like that name for our department. It fits, in a wierd way, given the problems of late) that we may not be a department for much longer. One of the monitoring tools we used has been spun off into its own department and we're not sure if they'll be responsible now for monitoring the servers, or if they'll be responsible for monitoring the monitoring tool to ensure it's monitoring and we'll be monitoring the monitoring tool to ensure the servers are up and running. Or something to that effect. Or maybe we'll be reduced to just monitoring the actual network, which is what our Primary NOC does but from another city.

It's enough to make anyone's head hurt.

Several times in the past I have had to address the situation of someone on the [department] staff directly confronting a member of another department with an issue (either personal or work related), when any actions that might have needed to be taken should have been referred to me to discuss with that individual's manager or supervisor.

Such an incident happened again today, and a complaint has been made regarding the conduct of the [department] staff member involved. Additionally, it was noted by the shift supervisor that “I have noticed a couple of the [department] reps coming out to the Tech Support floor to address reps in the past as well.”

You do not have the authority to rebuke, criticize, or in any fashion belittle another employee, more especially in front of his peers. If you feel that such action is necessary in a particular case, then send me the details by e-mail and I will discuss the matter with the supervisor or manager of the individual concerned.

Remember, the [department] is a monitoring and reporting group only. We are not enforcement in any, shape, or form. If you would prefer to be an enforcer, please resign from your position with the [department] and apply to [the security guard] for a position with his security firm.

Further complaints of this nature will result in disciplinary action, up to and including termination.

Another email from the Boss to our department

We're also being rebuked for handing issues with other employees directly rather than going through management. For some reason that just rubs me the wrong way. If another employee has a problem with me, I would prefer for that person to come talk to me about it rather than with my boss (or their boss to my boss). That just seems so … childish. Something you would do in 5th grade (“Ms. Crabtree! Ms. Crabtree! Pat's hitting me again!”).

So it's okay for management to rebuke, criticize or belittle employees, but not for us mere peons in non-management.

Okay, that's a cheap shot. I know it. But I just can't shake this feeling of being back in high school and having to respect the authority of the teacher, only now it's the manager but we're still sitting at a desk doing little more than busy work only now we don't get homework and we don't change rooms every hour. The “no homework” is a bonus, and okay, so are the OC-3s. But sometimes I have to wonder …

I'm also depressed because I'm here on Friday night (okay, Saturday morning) and wishing I didn't have to be here. I'm hungry but I'm all sub sandwiched out and there's no other place open this late in Boca Raton (and no, Denny's is not an option). And the selection from the Vending Machines O' Death isn't all that great either. I've already gone through most of the more edible selections there.

Sunday, March 04, 2001


Curiousity got the better of me, so I decided to see just how bad my gratuitous list of people I know had deteriorated.

It's not pretty.


“Oh, where you expecting a page here? 404.”

“We're sorry. The URL you clicked up is no longer in service. Please back up and try your click again. 404.”

“Busy. Busy. Busy. Busy. Busy. Busy. Busy. Busy. 404”

“The URL you have clicked, aitch-tee-tee-pee-colon-slash-slash … has been disconnected. Please back up and try your click again. 404.”

“We don't need no steeeeeking URLs. 404.”

“You step in the stream / but the water has moved on. / This page is not here. 404.”

You know, if only the actual error pages where that amusing.


In trying to track down members of Generation-X that I used to hand out with (on alt.society.generation-x and it's mailing list (which I'm still on although the volume has dropped since the heady days of 1996 with 200+ messages a day to it's current trickle of maybe 2 messages a quarter)) I came across Leslie Harpold's homepage.

I remember back in 1996 (give or take a year) that she wanted to start an online magazine. I had similar notions at the time so I registered a domain (actually, and and thought maybe we could collaborate. She declined, as my purpose (multi-media) wasn't her purpose (not multi-media).

It didn't matter since I had only registered the name; I never did get around to paying for it. Nor did I ever get around to actually doing the site. But Leslie did: Smug. Which appears to currently be on hiatus.

But she's also gone on and done other stuff, like her prepacked homepages (such as the goth girl package).

Odd factoid here: Not only were we both born on the same day (we both share the birthday with Elvis Presley and David Bowie) but we were also born in the same town (Royal Oak, MI). Not the same year though. Not sure why I mention this, other than I think it's a neat fact.

Another odd factoid: The word factoid is not a real word.

Yet another useless factoid: you were spared a rather poor pun in the original edit of this entry.

Maybe Smug will eventually return.

all your game are incomprehensible to us

Mark, Kelly and I are over at JeffK's house playing Dreamcast games. They start with this fishing game (fishing game? Like that would make an interesting video game?) and they keep pestering me to play.

I refuse. “I just want a simple shoot-em-up game,” I said.

“Well, I have this one shoot-em-up game,” said JeffK. “But it's nearly impossible to play.”

“Let's see it.”

JeffK loads the game. No idea what it's called, since it's all in Japanese, but it's this wierd overhead scrolling shoot-em-up game where a bazillion objects, enemies, bullets, lasers, power-ups, shields, explosions, the background, are all moving in six different directions at once and it's impossible to actually be anywhere on the screen for more than a second without being killed and we're all wondering This is a game that can actually be played?

We then moved on to a taxi-cab driving game.

And I thought Burger Time was a bizarre game.

Anthony Hopkins wasn't the only person to portray Hannibal Lecter

After playing video games, we rented Manhunter, the first film in which Dr. Hannibal Lecter appeared. Of course, this time he's played by Brian Cox and not Anthony Hopkins. But the plot is similar to Silence of the Lambs: an FBI agent calls upon Dr. Lecter to help track down a serial killer.

It's not a bad film but it isn't in the same league as Silence of the Lambs. It actually comes across more as a very well done student film than a slick Hollywood production—the music is a bit loud and the mixing is rather jarring at times. But it's an interesting story and it's not revealing anything to say that Dr. Lecter does not escape.

And it's not nearly as graphic in the violence either.

It's worth a rental.

Monday, March 05, 2001

Uphill, both ways

I walked to the local corner store. It's such a nice day and the store isn't that far, just around the corner; it being a local corner store and all that.

The experience brings back memories of years ago when I used to bike more than I do now. Back then (and we're talking about fifteen years or so) my main method of transportation consisted of a 12-speed bike (I wouldn't get a car until I was 19. I didn't learn how to drive until I was 19, but that's another story for another time). So the bike got plenty of use.

Now Florida is flat.

Kansas is mountainous compared to Florida.

Ubiquitous South Florida Weather Forcast

Lows in the high 70s, highs in the high 80s. Partly cloudy with a 20% chance of scattered showers. Winds NE at 15 knots; seas 1-3 feet with a light to moderate chop.

So you would think that biking down here would be easy—no hills that require twice the effort for half the speed to climb. Right?


Sure, there are no hills down here.

But there's this constant breeze. Runs about 15 knots on average and overall, I would prefer hills to that! Granted, it's easy when you're going with the wind, like it's easy going down a hill, but …

Ever bike into the wind at 15 knots? Tiring isn't the word. Tiring is going across the wind. And right there, about 75% of the directions you want to travel are already uphill.

Hills? Give me hills any day …

Potlatch Protocol

In contemporary society, we are accustomed to islands of abundance within deserts of scarcity, islands which must be defended against a constant pressure. Western ideas about economics are founded on this assumption, that there is not enough to go around. Something is considered to be valuable in the degree to which it is scarce, therefore an unlimited resource has very limited value. But this directly contradicts the basic nature of digital products - any sequence of bits can be copied any number of times. And so we are witnessing an enormous effort to prevent computers and networks from doing what they're particularly good at: copying and distributing information. This contradiction can only be resolved by abandoning the idea that scarcity is the only measure of value.

Potlatch Protocol

Just something to think about …

Tuesday, March 06, 2001

Setup for an Interview

The other day, Kelly talked me into submitting my résumé with his company, in light of recent events in The Cheese Shop.

So I called the appropriate person where Kelly works and left a message stating my interest and giving a link to my résumé and my phone number. A few hours later the person called back and I have an interview scheduled for Thursday.

You know, my current job started this way …

Wednesday, March 07, 2001

Going to Hell

It was an appropriately sci-fi spectacle for the Year 2000: a white MC with the fastest-selling solo album of all time. As Charles Barkley told a reporter, “You know it's going to hell when the best rapper out there is white and the best golfer is black.”


And of course, the best golfer is Tiger Woods.

We're Beatrice

Readers should also take into consideration that Microsoft is a partner with NBC, which is owned by General Electric, in an all-news cable channel, MSNBC, which competes with CNN, which is owned by AOL Time Warner. What's more, the editor in chief of , the cable channel's affiliated website, is my mother's brother's wife's aunt's husband's nephew, which obviously makes it difficult for me to evaluate objectively the merits of a merger between a company (AOL) that recently bought the company (Netscape) that makes the Internet browser that competes with the browser of the company that employs me, and a company (Time Warner) that owns a studio (Warner Bros.) that made the movie Wild Wild West, which I saw on an airplane and which is unforgivable….

Look: this very article you are reading is in a magazine published by a company that owns a cable channel that competes with another cable channel that is half owned by a company (Dow Jones) that also half owns a magazine (SmartMoney) that competes with another magazine (MONEY) owned by the company that publishes this magazine, and half owned by a company (GE) that also half owns a cable channel (MSNBC) that is half owned by the employer of the author of this article, whose CEO (GE's, that is) nevertheless often appears on the cover of the magazine (FORTUNE) that competes with the magazine (SmartMoney) co-owned by the company that also co-owns CNBC with GE.

Six Degrees of America Online

And my Mom once went to her father's sister's son's ex-wife's husband's 50th birthday party. In another state no less.

Seriously, while the article itself is an amusing dislosure, it does point out what to me is a disturbing trend—forget a one world corporation, how about a one-world owner! Another trend I can see happening is the illegality of actually owning anything. Do you own your car? Most likely, you're making payments on it and by the time you pay it off, you get another one. Your home? Renting, or mortgaged (which means the bank technically owns it until you pay off the note). Movies? Games? Software? If Microsoft has its way, you'll subscribe to the next edition of Microsoft Word; you won't actually own a copy.

Thursday, March 08, 2001

“Look Ma! I'm a registar!”

I was just talking with one of the techs here, and it seems that OpenSRS allows anyone to effectively become a registrar for $250.00. Not only that, but you gain access to make changes to the root servers with software (source code provided) they give you.

Quite interesting.

Interview with a Manager

I had my interview today with a new company for a similar position I now hold. I'm more than qualified and it's clear they want to hire me on the spot.

The company itself is closer than where I work now, and with four data centers across the country, and just tons of insane hardware to drool over (Sun 450 Enterprise systems everywhere! Raid systems! Fail over machines! Two Cisco 7500s! Terrabytes of disk space!) it does sound tempting. But even with all that, and their corporate headquarters in a newly constructed four story building (where I would be working) and over 400 employees, it is still a dotcom company and with the recent Internet stock bubble popping, and ad revenue sinking it does give me pause working there.

But that's not the real reason I'm hesitant to work there.

The real reason I'm hesitant to work there is well, it's work. It would be more work than I really want at this point, involving more system administration than I really care to do. And like most companies in the U. S., you get your standard two weeks of vacation (but only after you're there for six months). After three years, you then get three weeks, but from the sound of it, not many people there have qualified for that, nor from the tone, is it expected you actually take all three weeks.

But that could be my biases showing here.

The one manager I talked to (out of three that interviewed me) about vacation time, I mentioned that I was used to taking three, four weeks vacation time a year at previous jobs, usually with a month's notice and not paid (the notion of an actual paid vacation is rather novel to me to be sure).

“I don't care if I'm paid or not,” I said.

“Yes,” he said. “But I just can't let anyone take time off like that. This is a twenty-four-seven company and we need people to cover this place around the clock.”

“I understand that.”

“And if I let you do it, then other people will want to do it.” Anarchy reigns, hell freezes over, cats and dogs start living together!

“But I've heard that people in Europe get six weeks vacation a year,” I said.

“But it's the law there.” It's a fair conclustion that there is no way I'm getting more than two weeks vacation time out of this job. “You're just living in the wrong country.”

The other sticking point was the simple question he asked me: “Where do you see your career going?”

Well, I thought, I still don't know what I want to do when I grow up. “I really don't know,” is what I actually said. And it's true. I don't know. I took my current job because I was pretty much burned out of the whole dotcom insanity, development, insane schedules, long hours and other corporate supidity (not that I worked insane schedules, but I tend to avoid such situations).

And it is a dotcom.

But I have a few days to think this over.

Friday, March 09, 2001

the days …

Beautiful. Simply beautiful.

Monday, March 12, 2001

Twilight of confusion

I woke up and crossed the room to the clock. It read 7:34. Crap! I thought. I forgot to set my alarm clock correctly again. I headed to the bathroom as the twilight streamed in. Coming back out, I paused. Was it really 7:30 pm? I looked again at the clock. The small indicator for PM was not on. It's only 7:30 am?

My sleeping schedule is all messed up.

Wednesday, March 14, 2001

“Congress should fire the CIA and hire CNN.”

It's amusing to listen to the US counter-intelligence officials now scorning Hanssen for lack of “tradecraft” in using the same drop week after week. These are the same counter-intelligence officials who remained incurious across the decades about the tinny clang of empty drawers in their TOP SECRET filing cabinets, all contents removed on a daily basis by Ames and Hanssen who deemed the use of copying machines too laborious. In just one assignment, the CIA later calculated, Ames gave the KGB a stack of documents estimated to be 15 to 20 feet high. Hanssen was slack about “tradecraft” because he knew just how remote the possibility of discovery was. The only risk he couldn't accurately assess was the one that brought him down, betrayal by a Russian official privy to the material he was sending to Moscow.

Via Robot Wisdom, What are spies for?

Mr. Speaker, the Senate is about to confirm another director of the CIA, even though America found out about the collapse of the Soviet Union on CNN. America learned of the fall of the Berlin Wall on CNN. America found out about Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait on CNN. After all this, Congress keeps pouring billions of dollars into that big sinkhole called the Central Intelligence Agency. I say, with a track record like that, Congress does not need a Committee on the Budget; Congress needs a proctologist. I think the record is real clear. Congress should fire the CIA and hire CNN. Maybe we will learn what is happening in the world.

Rep. James Traficant (Ohio) 1997

I've seen Three Days of the Condor and some of Spies Like Us and in reading this article, it seems that the CIA is more inept than Chevy Chase and Dan Aykroyd and that of Harrison Ford or Willem Dafoe (from Clear and Present Danger).

I find it both hard to believe and amusing that the CIA is claiming that such theft of material is responsible for their failing to notice that the Soviet Union was crumbling. Um … didn't they notice their filing cabinets were failing to hold documents? Seems to me that the folks living within the Beltway are in their own little world not subject to reality as we know it.

Um … yea

The Short Answer for Why Micropayments Fail

Users hate them.

The Long Answer for Why Micropayments Fail

Why does it matter that users hate micropayments? Because users are the ones with the money, and micropayments do not take user preferences into account.

In particular, users want predictable and simple pricing. Micropayments, meanwhile, waste the users' mental effort in order to conserve cheap resources, by creating many tiny, unpredictable transactions. Micropayments thus create in the mind of the user both anxiety and confusion, characteristics that users have not heretofore been known to actively seek out.

The Case Against Micropayments

I personally have been waiting for micropayments to come along. I'm thinking Hey, great! Charge a small bit, help defray costs or even make a buck or two. But this article has me rethinking the entire scope of micropayments or how websites should make money.

For Military Tech, it's pretty clueless

But InTether's most intriguing features are those intended to rebuff hackers. To begin with, Friedman says, the system incorporates 11 layers of security defenses. “All have to be successfully navigated” in order to hack the system. “But one piece does nothing but check continually the integrity of the other pieces,” he says. “If you could disable a certain piece, within milliseconds our system would know.”

Via my dog wants to be on the radio, Copy This! Can `Military' Technology Beat Digital Piracy?'

Nice and all, but what if the operating system in question (and in this case it's Microsoft Windows obviously) is running on a virtual machine? Like under, say, VMWare?

Chinese Fishing story

Just prior to the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Chinese equivalent of the Coast Guard (possibly the Navy?) received a single distress call. They were able to track down the location of the call and sent a ship.

Sure enough, sitting in the water are a bunch of Chinese fishermen and no sigh of a boat anywhere. They're pulled to safety, but their story of what happened isn't believed and even when they're threatened with jail time, they still stick to thier story. So they're thrown into jail.

Six months later an official of the fast disentrigrating Soviet Union hears the story of the unfortunately fishermen and sends a letter to the Chinese government collaborating their story.

It appears that an overloaded Soviet cargo plane was flying over the ocean when it became apparent that they would not make it to their destination so the obvious solution to their problem was to dump their cargo. Unfortunately, the cargo ended up going through the Chinese fishing boat.

It was even more unfortunate for the cows.


I've had a few days to mull over this and I've decided. I'm not taking the job.

Like that wasn't obvious.

Stupid Human Tricks #13

I'm up a bit late (remember, working third shift here) since I'm updating the journal. I'm getting a bit hungry so I change clothes, and walk out the door.

I don't have my car keys.

Which is bad, because they're attached to my house key.

Which is in the house.

Along with my wallet, which contains a spare set of keys.


I try the door. Yup. Door is locked. I walk around the condo. Yup. Windows are locked. Go back to the door. Still locked. That's when I yank on the door and it latches.

I hadn't shut the door fully closed the first time! And now I just did!


“Press one to be promptly ignored … ”



“Welcome to The Company!” said the computerized phone system at work. I'm at my neighbor's house (since I'm locked out of my condo) trying to call my roommate, as we both work for the same company. “If you happen to know your party's extention …” which I don't … “you may dial it at any time. If you need to check the corporate directory, please hit star.”


“Please enter the first few letters of the first name of the person you are trying to reach.”

Beep. Boop. Beep. Bop. Boop.


XXXXXXXXXXXX. Extention 5555.” Nope. Nowhere close to Rob.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXX. Extension 5556.” 2nd shift guy, and again, nowhere close to Rob.

XXXXXXXXXXXX. Extention 5557.” Someone else I don't know. “To hear more names, press the pound key.”


XXXXXXXXXXXX. Extention 5558.” Pause. “Thank you for calling The Company. If you happen to know—” What was my cow-orker's number? He should be there by now …

Beep. Boop. Bop. Beep.

Long pause.



“Thank you for calling The Company. Have a nice day.”





“Welcome to The Company! If you happen to know your party's extention …” which I don't … “you may dial it at any time. If you need to check the corporate directory, please hit star.”


“Please enter the first few letters of the first name of the person you are trying to reach.”

Beep. Boop. Beep. Bop. Boop. This time another cow-orker.

“There is no one by that name in our directory. Please hit star to input another name.


“Please enter the first few letters of the first name of the person you are trying to reach.”

Beep. Boop. Beep. Bop. Boop. Yet another cow-orker.

“There is no one by that name in our directory. Please hit star to input another name.” I try my boss. “There is no one—” I try yet another cow-orker. “There is no—” I try Rob again. “XXXXXXXXXXXX. Extention 5555.” I hang up.

Let me try something else.



“Welcome to The Company's Automated Phone System! To talk to a sales represenative, press one. To talk to billing, press two. For technical assistance, press three—”


“Welcome to Technical Support. For dial-up, call 1-800-XXX-XXXX. For DSL support, call 1-888-XXX-XXXX. For DNS support, call 1-800-XXX-XXXX.” So far, three different 800 numbers. “For web hosting support, call 1-800-XXX-XXXX.”




“Welcome to The Company's Web Hosting Support. For sales assistance, press one.” Sigh. “For billing assistance, press two. For DNS issues, press three.” Yea, yea. Where's the most common option you morons? “For technical support, press four–”



Musak. Tony Bennet singing NIN's “Head Like a Hole.”

“Technical support! May I please have your domain name?”

Finally! “Um, I'm trying to reach Rob Summers. This is his roommate and I urgently need to talk to him.”

“Do you know his extention?”

“If I knew that, I'd call him directly.”

“Ah. Okay, hold on … ”

Musak. Pat Boone covering AC/DC's “Hiway to Hell.”

“I can't find his extention, but I have his cell phone. Is that okay?”

No. I want his extention. “Yes.” I write it down, hang up and finally call Rob.

Good lord.

Thursday, March 15, 2001

Home owner dimentia


I'm running around cleaning up the place before the cleaning lady gets here and I'm just overwhemled with how much stuff is simply breaking down here in the condo.

I'm a horrible home owner. Something breaks, I'd like to call someone to take care of it. In that reguard I'm like my Dad. But it's not like I can't repair this stuff—I can. I just don't want to be bothered.

Gotta clean before the cleaning lady gets here …

My mom would rush around the house cleaning. “Mom, isn't that what the cleaning lady is for?” I would ask her.

“I can't let her see the house like this!” she sould say.

I could never quite understand why she felt compelled to clean the house before the cleaning lady would come.

Now I do.

And I can't explain it either, other than to say “I can't let her see the house like this!

Casting perls and swine

having a job is not unimportant, but if knowing perl is a requirement for a particular job, consider another one before taking that one. this is true even if you know perl very well. life is too long to be an expert at harmful things, including such evilness as C++ and perl.

can lisp do what perl does easily?

Okay, I admit, I hate perl. Take the worst of /bin/sh, sed, awk and C, throw in some nonsense theories about computer languages should be like ambiguous human languages and give it to people who don't know the first thing about decent design nor maintainable code, and you get perl.

Am I biased? Perhaps a bit. But like Forth, perl has a reputation of being a write-only language. Only Forth has a consitent syntax. Perl doesn't.

And I'm a sucker for perl and C++ bashing.

Saturday, March 17, 2001

Amusing SPAM tail

Even as commercial ISPs began tightening down their mail servers – rejecting outgoing mail from non-subscribers, and forcing subscribers to electronically prove their identity before sending mail – Gilmore kept his own mail server open to the world, a service he says his friends have come to rely on.

Via Flutterby, Verio gags EFF founder over spam

I just found this amusing on several levels.

Who said this?

My son regarded what we did as illegal. He kept saying it was wrong to steal the music. I told him we were listening to it, just that. When we were finished we could trash it if he preferred. If he wants to fight for my rights he could call up BMI and ask them why my broadcast-related payments were so low during the years The Who were in the top 10 AOR playlists. He might ask them why during the 1989 Who tour, when we paid a huge sum of money to BMI for the right to perform songs I had written, they eventually paid me (after a lot of complaining from my manager) a tiny portion of that sum, excusing themselves because their main payout area that year was Nashville.

Via, Pete Townshend on the recording industry.

Tuesday, March 20, 2001

… I woke in a tub of ice and had two kidneys missing!

No one would have made the connection between his job and his death, had it not been for a doctor who specifically asked if he had been in a warehouse or exposed to dried rat or mouse droppings at any time. They said there is a virus (much like the Hanta virus) that lives in dried rat and mouse droppings. Once dried, these droppings are like dust and can easily be breathed in or ingested if a person does not wear protective gear or fails to wash face and hands thoroughly. An autopsy was performed on the clerk to verify the doctor's suspicions.

Never underestimate the magnitude of human ignorance. America seems to be about ensuring that the stupidest survive, and in the case of the hot McDonalds coffee on the lap lawsuit, the dumbest often get awarded millions of dollars. How did it ever come to this.

Snippits of two (2) email messages I received today.


I'm on this mailing list and occasionally (okay, rather frequently) items such as these are forwarded as gospel; as truth that we shall hold dear to ourselves. They're nice people, don't get me wrong. But the whole lot of them use Windows email clients and think nothing of forwarding the silliest little thing to the list (including 39MB atachments) and then get all defensive if called to the carpet on such silliness.

I sent replies to the list about both of these, sending in links to debunk the email, and what do I get back? “Yadda‥yadda‥ I just forward 'em, I don't research 'em. My view is, better safe than sorry.” and “Mr. Wellspring of knowledge, If only you could use your powers for good.”

You might ask me why I'm still on such a list. Good question. I think I like rattling their cages from time to time. Like now.

Talk about astronomical chances …

It seems that Taco Bell is going to give everyone in the US a free taco if the Mir hits a 40'x40' (40 feet by 40 feet, or 12 meters by 12 meters for the Imperially challenged) target in the South Pacific. I even heard a rumor that they took out insurance just in case they have to pay out.

So what are the odds of Mir (or any piece thereof) hitting a 40'x40' area? Well, the area of a sphere is 4πr²—to make things easier let's just say it's 12r² and use 4,000 miles (6,437 km) as r. That's 12*(4*103 * 4*103) which is 19.2*107, normalize it to 1.9*108 and oh, let's say 2*108 or 20 million square miles (you gotta love exponents—makes the math easier to work with). The target is 1,600 square feet (1.6*103) and there are 5,280 feet per mile, so that makes some 28 million square feet per mile (2.8*107). So multiply 2*108 by 2.8*107 and you end up with a surface area of 5.6*1015 square feet for the Earth. Divide that by the target area and you get 3.5*1012 which means if my math is sound, one chance in 3.5 trillion.

Well, actually, not quite. That's the entire Earth and since most objects orbit around the equator, the likelyhood of the Mir crashing in any arbitrary location, say, the South Pole, is not likely. So let's restrict ourselves to an area between 30° North to 30° South. To make it easy (again) we can treat this as a cylinder, so the surface area is 2πrh, and plugging the numbers in and rounding 2π to 6, we end up with an area that is approximately 10 million square miles, which increases the oods to one in 1.75 trillion.

I don't think Taco Bell has much to worry about.

Guess I was wrong …

Last month I heard a rumor that it was possible to find out the resolution of a browser window and I found no proof of it. Well, I was wrong.

I wasn't entirely wrong, but via SlashDot, a report on Earthlink's browser that does include that information. I checked my own log files and yup, there it is:

Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 5.0; Windows 98)
Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 5.0; Windows 98)
Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 5.0; Windows 98)
Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 5.0; Windows 98)
Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 5.0; Windows 98)
Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 5.0; Windows 98)
Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 5.0; Windows 98)
Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 5.0; Windows 98)
Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 5.0; Windows 98)
Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 5.0; Windows 98)
Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 5.0; Windows 98)
Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 5.0; Windows 98)
Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 5.0; Windows 98)
Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 5.0; Windows 98)
Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 5.0; Windows 98)
Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 5.0; Windows 98)
Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 5.0; Windows 98)
Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 5.0; Windows 98)
Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 5.0; Windows 98)

Also from the logs, it looks like they started using this on or about April of 2000, so it's been going on for some time now.

Friday, March 23, 2001



Installing VMWare under Linux, then installing Linux under Linux.

I thought about installing dosemu, but thought better of it.

How To Turn a $175,000 High-End SGI Challenge DM Server into a Fridge

Server (n.),
   1. Large, extremely expensive machine that goes “Ping!”. Measuring at least 25 cubic feet, heavy, bulky and giving of more heat then a nuclear power plant. It's big, it's bad, it's beautiful and makes it pretty clear what happened to this year's IT-budget.

Via Camworld, The Silicon Graphics Refrigerator Project


Or rather, Cold!

The space stations red glare

JV (fellow cow-orker) and I were watching Mir crash into the South Pacific on CNN tonight. Simply amazing—150 tons of metal screaming into the ocean. It was dropping at about 720 miles per hour (dropping, as in loosing altitude—laterally it was moving way faster than than).

It must have been some sight as it streaked across Fuji.

Saturday, March 24, 2001

Installed Win98 under VMWare under Linux, just so I can run a webcam at work that uses USB. VMWare doesn't support USB. Sigh.

Sunday, March 25, 2001

John “Tuscarora Jack” Barnwell

Years ago at a large family gathering, one my Mom's cousins told of the research he did on the family (my Mom's side) tree and tracing their family back to 1700 when John “Tuscaroroa Jack” Barnwell sailed from Irland to setting in what is now South Carolina. I find it neat that there's quite a bit of information about him out on the net.

Thursday, March 29, 2001


Strong words. Indeed, The New York Times has repeatedly leapt to the defense of strong copyright protection. Back on July 29th, 2000, the paper's editorial, "Copyright in the Age of Napster," told its readers, correctly, that "the protection of copyright is vital to the health of a free and creative society" and that society benefits when, "the law assures that the creation of new art, writing or other intellectual property is rewarded."

But, in September 1999, a federal appeals court ruled for a group of writers, saying that the Times, along with other defendants, was guilty of stealing the copyrighted works of freelance writers by using our work without permission in electronic media (Tasini v. The New York Times). Though only a few media companies were defendants in the case, the precedent fingered the practices of virtually every major media company. And, in fact, copyright "protector" that it is, The Times, mainly through its website, is a virtual copyright infringement machine. Since our victory, it has continued to use legal maneuvering, which now includes a hearing before the U.S. Supreme Court, to avoid paying writers their fair share.

Via NUblog, The Hypocrisy of The New York Times

I know, I'll just hand over my entire paycheck to … well … let's see … AOL-Time/Warner-Disney-CNN-Viacom-Sony. Or is it Disney-CNN-Viacom-AOL-Time/Wanrer-Sony? I don't remember. But that's not important; what is is passing on my paycheck to some huge comglomerate multinational corporation because, well, gosh darn it, because they need it!


IDSL is dead.



The Company does dialup. I have a dialup account. Last night I got the dialup number just in case.

The phone just rings.

I dial tech support.

Ten minutes later: “All trunks are busy. Please try your call again.” Click.

Major suckage.

Wednesday, April 04, 2001

My life is the companies, and so is yours

I STRONGLY suggest that you call some 7AM, 6PM and Saturday AM team meetings with the EMPLOYEES who work directly for you. Discuss this serious issue with your team. I suggest that you call your first meeting – tonight. Something is going to change.

I am giving you two weeks to fix this. My measurement will be the parking lot: it should be substantially full at 7:30 AM and 6:30 PM. The pizza man should show up at 7:30 PM to feed the starving teams working late. The lot should be half full on Saturday mornings. We have a lot of work to do. If you do not have enough to keep your teams busy, let me know immediately.

Via my dog wants to be on the radio, From Cerner Corp to Employees

I am glad, very glad, I don't work for such a company. The CEO (who sent this letter) is clearly insane but you know what? The people are going to respond to this. They're going to be there at 7:30 AM and still at 7:30 PM. They're going to work harder. Not smarter mind you; just harder. The CEO is clearly someone who is only defined by thier job. He has no life and he is making sure that no one else does either.

This is someone who you don't want to work for.

Friday, April 06, 2001

“Remove my leg and I'll be complete.”

But just what counts as apotemnophilia is part of the problem in explaining it. Some wannabes are also devotees. Others who identify themselves as wannabes are drawn to extreme body modification. There seems to be some overlap between people who want finger and toe amputations and those who seek piercing, scarring, branding, genital mutilation, and such. Some wannabes, Robert Smith suggests, want amputation as a way to gain sympathy from others. And finally, there are "true" apotemnophiles, whose desire for amputation is less about sex than about identity. "My left foot was not part of me," says one amputee, who had wished for amputation since the age of eight. "I didn't understand why, but I knew I didn't want my leg." A woman in her early forties wrote to me, "I will never feel truly whole with legs." Her view of herself has always been as a double amputee, with stumps of five or six inches.

A New Way to Be Mad

A long and fascinating article on a condition that may be related to gender-identity disorder, whereby people wish to have body parts amputated to feel complete.

Monday, April 09, 2001

The Mandelbrot Monk

When Schipke saw the translation, at once he saw it for what it was: an allegorical description of the iterative process for calculating the Mandelbrot. In mathematical terms, Udo's system was to start with a complex number z, then iterate it up to 70 times by the rule z -> z*z + c, until z either diverged or was caught in an orbit.

The Mandelbrot Monk

Fact? Or hoax? Given that it's dated April 1st makes it suspect, but you never know. It does seem too perfect though.

Friday, May 11, 2001

Oops, where did the time go?

Yea, I know—lack of updates.

So sue me.

Random Meal #5

It's gotten to the point where I no longer expect to actually get the food I order from Burger King. I expect to get something, but not necessarily what I order.

Ocasionally, I end up in the drive through of Burger King on my way to work. It's one of the few places still left open and more importantly, on the way to work. And each time I go, I order the same thing.

Bzzzzz crackle “—ry a n<bzzzzzzzz>ombo mea—” snap click.

“Um, yea,” I say, assuming this now signifies my chance to order. “I'll take a Whopper™ with cheese, onion rings and a medium Coke™.”

Bzzzzzzzz snap “—ng els—” snap click.

“No, that's it.”

Snap crackle pop “—ive. Dri<bzzzzzzz>ough—” bzzzzzzz click.

I drive up to the window, pay whatever amount they say I owe, which is always different, but is between $4.50 and $5.50 and get my food, which is almost, but not entirely like what I ordered. Sometimes it's French fries instead of onion rings. Or maybe it's a Whopper™ instead of a Whopper™ with cheese. Or even a Whopper Jr.™, fries and a Diet Coke™

I figure the first fast food chain to offer a Random Value Meal for $5.00 is going to make a killing! (for the record tonight I got two Whoppers™ without cheese, no fries, no onion rings and no Coke™)

Whopper™ is a registered trademark of Burger King.
Whopper Jr™ is a registered trademark of Burger King.
Coke™ is a registered trademark of the Coca-Cola Corporation.
Diet Coke™ is a registered trademark of the Coca-Cola Corporation.

Tuesday, May 15, 2001

Richard Feynman is a Notorious Spacetime Crackpot

Why is motion in spacetime impossible? It has to do with the definitions of space and time and the equation of velocity v = dx/dt. What the equation is saying is that, if an object moves over any distance x, there is an elapsed time t. Since time is defined in physics as a parameter for denoting change (evolution), changing position from one point in a time dimension (time axis) to another is self-referential. Why? Because the equation for velocity along the time axis would have to be v = dt/dt which is meaningless, of course. It is logically impossible for the t coordinate of an object to change in spacetime. Et voil´! It's that simple. No time travel, no motion in spacetime, no spacetime and no time dimension.

Notorious Spacetime Crackpots

I've always been unconfortable with the notion of time being considered the fourth dimension. You just don't have the freedom of motion as with the other three spatial dimentions and that wierd things start happening if you reverse time or otherwise can affect the past. The fourth dimention as another spatial dimention I can live with.

But I'm not about to go calling Richard Feynman a crackpot though!

Gravity arrested for speeding

The most amazing thing I was taught as a graduate student of celestial mechanics at Yale in the 1960s was that all gravitational interactions between bodies in all dynamical systems had to be taken as instantaneous. This seemed unacceptable on two counts. In the first place, it seemed to be a form of "action at a distance". Perhaps no one has so elegantly expressed the objection to such a concept better than Sir Isaac Newton: "That one body may act upon another at a distance through a vacuum, without the mediation of any thing else, by and through which their action and force may be conveyed from one to the other, is to me so great an absurdity, that I believe no man who has in philosophical matters a competent faculty of thinking, can ever fall into it." (See Hoffman, 1983.) But mediation requires propagation, and finite bodies should be incapable of propagate at infinite speeds since that would require infinite energy. So instantaneous gravity seemed to have an element of magic to it.

The second objection was that we had all been taught that Einstein's special relativity (SR), an experimentally well established theory, proved that nothing could propagate in forward time at a speed greater than that of light in a vacuum. Indeed, as astronomers we were taught to calculate orbits using instantaneous forces; then extract the position of some body along its orbit at a time of interest, and calculate where that position would appear as seen from Earth by allowing for the finite propagation speed of light from there to here. It seemed incongruous to allow for the finite speed of light from the body to the Earth, but to take the effect of Earth's gravity on that same body as propagating from here to there instantaneously. Yet that was the required procedure to get the correct answers.

The Speed of Gravity - What the Experiments Say

You know, I've always wondered about this, and I was also under the impression that if the sun were to suddenly snuff out of existance, we wouldn't know for another eight minutes or so. But this seems to say that gravity, while not instantaneous, is certainly faster than the speed of light so a savy scientist might be able to make a sucker bet with the janitor (“Say Bob, I bet my house that the sun will snuff out in five minutes.”), not that it will do the scientist much good.

There is abundant literature on SR dealing with the seeming inconsistencies which Van Flandern brings up in his “paper”, and then mentions in passing as being "non-trivial". They are forbiddingly described as non-trivial, perhaps, because he is ultimately advocating a common-sense approach to cosmology, requiring no special knowledge of mathematics nor original experimentation to generate grand, sweeping hypotheses on how the universe works. His message seems to be that mainstream cosmological researchers are pointy-headed acolytes who either purposely or through accidental oversight have made things out to be far more complex than they really are, and that the “truth” of the matter is readily discernible by Everyman, if only he had all the facts laid out for him in plain English. No mathematics required.

Discussion about said paper on Jerry Pournelle's site.

Pass the popcorn, physics just got interesting again …

The GPS has revolutionized the transportion industry, as well as offering unprecedented position and chronometer accuracy to field researchers involved in biology, botany, ecology, geology, and petroleum exploration, among others. While the system was not designed as a test of gtr, it turns out that in addition to numerous extremely complex Newtonian physical issues which must be taken account of, there are also about a dozen distinct str and gtr effects which must be taken into account in the design and operation of the system. This takes quite a bit of explaining, since the actual system is quite complex, and I certainly won't attempt to explain all the engineering details here (although I'll provide links to sites where you can obtain more detailed information).

Some Scientifically Inaccurate Claims Concerning Cosmology and Relativity

Wednesday, May 23, 2001

Freedonian Feminists and Knitting Society Web Ring

For more than two years, a sizable group of internet users were caught up in the story of Kaycee Nicole. She was an attractive High School/College student dying from leukemia and she kept users updated via her online diary. Eventually her mom also started a companion diary to express the feelings associated with caring for a child with cancer. Many people became close friends with Kaycee Nicole through email, chatroom, and even phone conversations. When Kaycee finally succumbed, her online friends grieved like they had lost members of their own families. Well, there is one problem. Kaycee Nicole never existed.

Via The Gus, the Kaycee Nicole (Swenson) FAQ

This is an interesting case here. Fictional journals and diaries are nothing new to literature (for instance, Bram Stoker's Dracula or even to the web. But books (such as Dracula) are sold as fiction, and those that exist on the web (such as The Gus' Bobby the Eight-Year-Old Spanking Victim) can be determined to be fake (or works of satire) if you care to look closely enough and usually they're fairly static works, meaning that the author rarely interacts with the audience. But in this case, “Kaycee” did indeed interact with several people via email and over the phone so the author did go to a somewhat extreme measure in the fictional account of a 19 year old cancer victim.

The web is an interesting medium to work in, and one that I still feel hasn't been fully exploited yet (to its full artistic measure, not economically) and we probably won't see it coming unto its own for another ten to twenty years yet. For instance, movies and television.

At first, both movies and television were nothing more than recording (or broadcasting) of theater and it took awhile for artists to view the medium as something other than a play or vaudvillian show. Movies were the first to break away (in the “time from first use imitating an existing medium to standing on its own as a new medium” sense) to its own conventions since the filmmakers didn't immediately need an audience. Television took longer since most of the early television broadcasts were done in front of a live studio audience and all the televesion was used for was broadcasting the entertainment to a larger audience than could normally be held in a theater or sports arena.

It's odd that even though both mediums started from the same premise (theater) and still use the same basics (to a degree) the two mediums are now percieved to be different. Movies are more remote, more expressive (if you've never seen Blade Runner on a movie screen, you're missing a lot!) than television. Television is more intimate, warmer than movies are (due to the amount of space available to show an image), immediate (it's easier to record and edit on videotape than on film since there's no develop stage, or cutting and splicing in the physical sense), and until recently, a lesser medium than movies (it used to be that actors who started out in television and went to movies were moving up, while going from movies to television was a sign of a spiralling career). Movies are as distinct from television as it is from theater.

We're still working out the new means of expressions and asthetics that are available on the web. Is Kaycee pointing us toward a direction where taking on a new identity or persona can be an artistic expression? (Much like Andy Kaufman did with Tony Clifton). Can we expect to see several interacting journals for a whole community of non-existant people? (Freedonian Feminists and Knitting Society anyone?)

Is anyone still reading this at all?

Duck Soup

In case you are wondering about the Freedonian Feminists and Knitting Society, you might want to read up on Duck Soup. And here's more information on the making of Duck Soup.

They never learn …

According to SlashDot, there's a new OS called, appropriately enough, NewOS. Okay, I have an interest in these things, and, unlike some others, this one seems to actually be in a working state.

I download the code and peruse it.

Not five minutes and already I find a horrible bug:

void aquire_spinlock(int *lock)
    if(smp_num_cpus > 1) {
        while(1) {
            while(*lock != 0)
            if(test_and_set(lock, 1) == 0)

void release_spinlock(int *lock)
    *lock = 0;


It works if you have more than one CPU, but on your typical single-CPU system, this fails to do The Right Thing and you end up with very hard to track down bugs. Also, the code for test_and_set() is needlessly complicated:

    movl     4(%esp),%edx     /* load address of variable into edx */

    movl     8(%esp),%ecx    /* load the value to set the lock to */
    movl     (%edx),%eax      /* load the value of variable into eax */

    cmpl     $0, %eax         /* see if someone else got it */
    jnz      _test_and_set2   /* if so, bail out */

    cmpxchg  %ecx,(%edx)

    jnz      _test_and_set1   /* if zf = 0, cmpxchng failed so redo it */



Sigh. It's not hard or complicated.

Hold quotas

Nice. I just got an automated call from a computerized telemarketer. It made its pitch then put me on hold. I have trouble wrapping my brain around the concept. What? The company is below its quota of customers on hold? It has to call up random people and put them on hold? There's money to be made in putting people on hold?

My God, what are we devolving to?

Monday, July 09, 2001

The Peeing Car IV—The Second Dealership!

Okay, the fourth time I've taken the car back for the same problem: the AC is leaking inside the car. This time, instead of going to the dealership down the street I'm taking it to the dealership I got the car at (at the recomendation of my friend Greg who helped me get the car). Spring was expecting the worse to happen, but it went smoothly. We even got a loaner car! Well, it's a Jeep Cherokee and not a car, but that went quite smoothly.

Tuesday, July 10, 2001

“Oh, you mean I NEED the IDE drivers?”

A few days ago I recieved an old network card and I've just now finished installing it in the firewall system. I had two cards in there, one hooked up to the DSL equipment and one for the local network. I wanted a third one in there to separate the network between myself and my roommate. No real reason other than to do it and just see how much I can trick out an old 486 Compaq computer.

Problem number one: Identifying the network card. Mark helped there; depending on how it's configured (via jumpers as I found out) it shows up as either a WD80x3 or an NE2000 clone.

The other two cards (important later on) are a 3Com503 (for the internal network and yes, I realize it's an old card) and an NE2000 compatible (for the external connection to the DSL unit) that I can't change the settings on because it's software configurable and I don't have the software (MS-DOS only of course) to change the configuration. Pitty—I find those cards all over the place!

Problem number two (and this is the embarresing one): don't forget to include the IDE drivers when compiling the Linux kernel!

Transfer the new kernel and install. Shut machine down. Install card. Bring machine up. See it find three network cards and immediately kernel panic because it can't mount the root partition.

Keep from having heart attack.

Boot old kernel (yes, I did have an option to boot the previous working kernel. Standard operating procedure around here). Good, it comes up and the filesystem is not corrupted at all. Try to reboot the new kernel.

Kernel panic trying to mount the root device.

Okay, something odd is going on here.

Since my roommate is home and knows Linux, maybe he can help me. I go to his room and start describing the problem when it hits me! I probably forgot to include the IDE drivers!

Sure enough, no IDE drivers.

D'oh! (Which I can now use since it's part of the Oxford English Dictionary)

Problem number three: The 3Com503. It kept spewing these error messages about bogus packets. Probably some strange interaction with the WD80x3 driver I now have. Play around with the settings on the WD80x3 and that doesn't fix the problem.

Heck, I can reconfigure the 3Com since unlike the NE2000 it has jumpers. I change the 3Com to use I/O instead of shared memory and even though I get this message on boot-up:

3c503.c:v1.10 9/23/93  Donald Becker (
eth0: 3c503 at i/o base 0x330, node  02 60 8c d8 75 17, using internal xcvr.
eth0: 3c503-PIO, 16kB RAM, using programmed I/O (REJUMPER for SHARED MEMORY).

it works fine with the three cards.

I also changed the firewall settings to log all unused ports below 1022. I found out the hard way that Linux (2.0—it's too much work to upgrade to 2.2 or 2.4) seems to use 1023 as the first available port when making outgoing connections, instead of 1024. How odd.

Wednesday, July 11, 2001

The Peeing Car IVb—The Return!

Got the car back from the dealership today. The A/C should stop leaking into the passenger side. I hope.

A routing mess

Theoretically, TCP/IP packets don't have to take the same route but in real life all the packets travel the same path. Do two traceroutes and you'll see the same path.

But today, something seriously odd is going on with the Telocity network. I noticed some annoying network lags between my home system and my colocated server and did some traceroutes. And I got something I've never seen before: no two traceroutes (done seconds after each other) where the same!

traceroute to (, 30 hops max, 40 byte packets
 1  janet (  1.814 ms  1.737 ms  1.755 ms
 2 (  3.196 ms  3.244 ms  3.321 ms
 3 (  14.046 ms  14.042 ms  14.335 ms
 4 (  14.353 ms  15.842 ms  15.055 ms
 5 (  28.034 ms  15.807 ms  15.295 ms
 6 (  64.815 ms  64.130 ms  64.096 ms
 7 (  63.686 ms  64.580 ms  65.116 ms
traceroute to (, 30 hops max, 40 byte packets
 1  janet (  1.811 ms  1.739 ms  1.814 ms
 2 (  3.203 ms  3.250 ms  3.166 ms
 3 (  14.206 ms  16.701 ms  14.037 ms
 4 (  55.927 ms  14.870 ms  15.310 ms
 5 (  29.778 ms  27.010 ms  28.602 ms
 6 (  26.929 ms  27.705 ms  26.858 ms
 7 (  72.251 ms  75.729 ms  73.677 ms
 8 (  74.153 ms  73.005 ms  75.141 ms
 9 (  105.344 ms  107.666 ms  106.208 ms
10 (  105.677 ms  105.910 ms  106.452 ms
11 (  132.903 ms  130.575 ms  125.659 ms
12 (  130.631 ms  124.767 ms  125.355 ms
13 (  119.255 ms  117.430 ms  125.996 ms
14 (  128.272 ms  130.919 ms  307.509 ms
15  * (  64.129 ms  65.449 ms
traceroute to (, 30 hops max, 40 byte packets
 1  janet (  1.800 ms  1.755 ms  1.731 ms
 2 (  3.212 ms  3.170 ms  3.230 ms
 3 (  13.544 ms  14.038 ms  12.598 ms
 4 (  15.749 ms  14.805 ms  15.291 ms
 5 (  31.635 ms  28.690 ms  28.623 ms
 6 (  27.187 ms  28.049 ms  28.120 ms
 7 (  74.507 ms  73.200 ms  72.905 ms
 8 (  72.751 ms  73.105 ms  75.415 ms
 9 (  106.234 ms  106.130 ms  106.299 ms
10 (  105.595 ms  106.418 ms  106.217 ms
11 (  135.297 ms  128.321 ms  126.335 ms
12 (  118.552 ms  130.986 ms  126.928 ms
13 (  114.866 ms  117.073 ms  124.424 ms
14 (  127.696 ms  130.745 ms  125.977 ms
15  * (  191.308 ms *
16  * (  101.322 ms  100.327 ms
traceroute to (, 30 hops max, 40 byte packets
 1  janet (  2.492 ms  1.769 ms  1.748 ms
 2 (  4.209 ms  3.150 ms  3.165 ms
 3 (  14.623 ms  13.612 ms  15.036 ms
 4 (  31.694 ms  16.130 ms  15.292 ms
 5 (  15.440 ms  15.476 ms  16.583 ms
 6 (  41.190 ms  62.272 ms  41.618 ms
 7 (  47.128 ms  40.831 ms  40.425 ms
 8 (  51.271 ms  40.997 ms  41.915 ms
 9 (  41.269 ms  41.624 ms  41.947 ms
10 (  57.903 ms  57.344 ms  58.573 ms
11 (  91.555 ms  93.025 ms  93.167 ms
12 (  99.760 ms  98.111 ms  216.351 ms
13 (  101.450 ms  102.368 ms  101.038 ms
traceroute to (, 30 hops max, 40 byte packets
 1  janet (  1.770 ms  1.852 ms  1.705 ms
 2 (  3.175 ms  3.220 ms  3.290 ms
 3 (  12.757 ms  13.936 ms  14.244 ms
 4 (  15.600 ms  16.065 ms  13.803 ms
 5 (  27.430 ms  28.691 ms  28.694 ms
 6 (  27.660 ms  26.413 ms  26.573 ms
 7 (  74.026 ms  82.005 ms  73.880 ms
 8 (  74.488 ms  73.386 ms  73.193 ms
 9 (  105.209 ms  106.414 ms  106.708 ms
10 (  107.248 ms  106.171 ms  127.723 ms
11 (  135.017 ms  127.588 ms  126.325 ms
12 (  133.066 ms  125.410 ms  128.867 ms
13 (  115.226 ms  121.554 ms  119.980 ms
14 (  130.603 ms  134.301 ms  130.845 ms
15 (  119.819 ms  130.060 ms  142.445 ms
16 (  139.018 ms  133.283 ms *
17 (  102.361 ms  101.642 ms  100.291 ms
traceroute to (, 30 hops max, 40 byte packets
 1  janet (  1.740 ms  1.757 ms  1.728 ms
 2 (  3.201 ms  3.244 ms  3.170 ms
 3 (  13.510 ms  13.748 ms  14.303 ms
 4 (  14.592 ms  14.997 ms  14.759 ms
 5 (  17.374 ms  16.767 ms  16.539 ms
 6 (  16.462 ms  15.245 ms  14.954 ms
 7 (  14.788 ms  16.020 ms  16.619 ms
 8 (  15.897 ms  15.401 ms  16.995 ms
 9 (  16.266 ms  16.682 ms  15.344 ms
10 (  15.385 ms  16.295 ms  15.085 ms
11 (  16.568 ms  17.000 ms  16.552 ms
12 (  16.599 ms  17.155 ms  14.814 ms
13 (  14.799 ms  40.861 ms  18.034 ms
14 (  17.572 ms  91.453 ms  15.259 ms
15 (  23.225 ms  16.968 ms  16.886 ms
16 (  16.060 ms  17.160 ms  15.896 ms
17 (  15.333 ms  16.403 ms  25.721 ms
18 (  17.314 ms  15.686 ms  16.859 ms
19 (  23.482 ms  15.241 ms  15.339 ms
20 (  16.103 ms  16.605 ms  17.546 ms
21 (  15.845 ms  16.959 ms  18.241 ms
22 (  16.839 ms  15.091 ms  15.442 ms
23 (  15.910 ms  16.546 ms  16.501 ms
24 (  16.934 ms  16.800 ms  17.549 ms
25 (  17.931 ms  16.327 ms  16.082 ms
26 (  15.973 ms  16.469 ms  16.467 ms
27 (  52.760 ms  17.235 ms  15.509 ms
28 (  16.039 ms  16.770 ms  16.421 ms
29 (  15.857 ms  16.527 ms  17.723 ms
30 (  17.253 ms  18.240 ms  16.017 ms
traceroute to (, 30 hops max, 40 byte packets
 1  janet (  43.666 ms  1.827 ms  1.813 ms
 2 (  3.306 ms  3.232 ms  3.102 ms
 3 (  14.623 ms  14.539 ms  14.481 ms
 4 (  65.600 ms  81.921 ms  58.918 ms
 5 (  85.022 ms  14.867 ms  14.560 ms
 6 (  119.265 ms * (  46.996 ms
 7 (  73.053 ms  81.261 ms  94.668 ms
 8 (  105.210 ms  75.482 ms *
 9 (  80.207 ms  71.852 ms  72.419 ms
10 (  71.978 ms  74.689 ms (  106.497 ms
11 (  133.156 ms  141.849 ms  134.666 ms
12 (  125.158 ms  117.098 ms  115.600 ms
13 (  115.742 ms  121.505 ms  162.642 ms
14 (  124.839 ms  117.256 ms  124.204 ms
15 (  122.668 ms  126.308 ms  138.030 ms
16 (  121.666 ms  132.773 ms  124.458 ms
17  * (  151.364 ms *
18 (  158.682 ms  246.846 ms  158.229 ms
19 (  161.658 ms  163.065 ms  161.680 ms

Got to see major network rerouting at work here. From 7 to 19 hops no less! Sheesh!

An FTP mess

Spring has been having difficulty FTPing to her site. Her computer is currently sitting behind a firewall, so to use FTP she has to use passive mode.

But … her web host has stuck the FTP server behind a firewall, where it doesn't work in passive mode.

So, she can't FTP to her web host.

I wasn't sure how to configure ProFTPD to do FTP proxying, so I downloaded jftpgw, an FTP proxy. I wanted it to work in conjunction with ProFTPD, so it took some work (namely, getting ProFTPD to not bind to every IP address on the firewall, and setting up an extra IP address for the proxy FTP program to run on.

The contortions one must go through when you only have a single IP address.

The ruling jaunta strikes again

The Condo Commando's still hate Spring's van. This time it's not the fact that the van is covered, but that it's covered and parked in a guest spot! Apparently that's a no-no, even though it isnt' stated in the RULES AND REGULATIONS OF THE XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX CONDOMINIUM ASSOCIATION, INC. AMENDED March 22, 2000.

And I've still yet to sign any papers stating I have read and acknowledge the RULES AND REGULATIONS OF THE XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX CONDOMINIUM ASSOCIATION, INC. AMENDED March 22, 2000 so they can XXXXXXXXXXX.

Sunday, July 15, 2001

“The Internet is broken!”

“My sites down again!” said Spring. “What is Russ doing?” Russ being the person that hosts her site (I offered, but she doesn't want to move the site. Can't say that I blame her.)

“Oh dear,” I said. “I may not be your site.” I'm sitting next to her in the Computer Room at my computer, attempting to check email. “Looks like there's something wrong with the network here.”

I switch over to the firewall. “I can still get out on the firewall.” I then tried to ping my machine from the firewall. Nothing. “That isn't good.” I then start crawling under the desks. “Could you watch that screen,” I said, pointing to the screen attached to the firewall, “and tell me when you see something pop up.” I left the ping program running.

“Okay,” she said.

Now, I'm running a 10Base-2 network here at the house. Primarily because I'm cheap (10Base-2 is also known as “cheapnet”) but also because most of my older equipment only has 10Base-2 connectors (or 10Base-5 but I have 10Base-5 to 10Base-2 transceivers—10Base-5 to 10-Base-T transceivers are very hard to find and also very expensive to a non-hardware hacker like me). One of the problems with 10Base-2—if one segment is bad the entire network is down.

So I spent the next fifteen minutes tracking down the bad segment, which went from the firewall to my computer (the next segment went from my computer to the 10Base-T hub which is where Spring's computer is plugged into). The cable seemed fine which meant that something was wrong with the card in my main machine.


I got Spring squared away and back on the net, and took my computer apart, cleaned all the dust out of it (cough cough). Back together and Woo hoo! It works again!

Thankfully I don't have to find a new network card.

Monday, July 16, 2001

“Sheilds up! They're hitting us in DNS!”

I've noticed some very odd network activity recently here at the South Lab. At 8:02 pm EST yesturday I got slammed with DNS. For nine seconds I received an average of 10 requests per second for DNS resolution from 22 different IP addresses (an average of 4 requests per IP address).

Very odd.

But then, exactly 12 hours later, again, for nine seconds I received an average of 10 reqeusts per second for DNS resolution from 22 different hosts; the same hosts as 12 hours earlier.

Very odd …

The Lost Wages of the Ancient World

Jorn Barger, of RobotWisdom fame, has an interesting theory about the ancient Minoan culture—that it was the Las Vegas of the ancient world (which is my take on the theory and not Jorn's words at all). An interesting theory for sure. And would that mean that the famed maze at Knossos, which held the Minotaur (half man, half bull), was an attraction? “Survive the maze, and win fabulous prizes!”

Hmmmm …

The Lost Games of the Ancient World

And speaking of the Las Vegas of the Ancient World, recent archeological findings have brought to life some of the games they used to play there.

I'm guessing that betting on survivors of the Minatour Maze wasn't everybody's cup of tea back then.

Microsoft Madness

I was surprised to find “Property of Acme Widgets, 301-555-1212” in the .EXE file from 0x6000 to 0x14FFF. The compiler had obviously just grabbed a big chunk of disk space and stuffed it into the file, without bothering to clear it first.

Via RobotWisdom, Uncleared disk space and MSVC

Even scarier are the articles about Microsoft and nuclear material tracking. Shudder

Load Size

There are five settings on my washing machine for load size, ranging from small load to large load. I never know just how much makes a certain size load, and there's no guide telling me how many pounds of clothes (or to what level) constitutes a load size.

What? Like I know laundry?

Stop with the HTML in email already!

MSN Explorer 6.0

MSN Explorer Tech support states "that MSN Explorer and send web-based HTML e-mail ONLY and cannot be configured to send plain text."

However, if you use MSN as your mail service (i.e., you can simply go to and send e-mail from there in plain text (via their so-called PASSPORT system). Same inbox, address book, etc.

You just have to remember to send or reply to POP3 and plain text e-mail from Hotmail and not from MSN. A real nuisance but at least an option.

Unfortunately the transfer to Hotmail from MSN e-mail takes you through 3 screens and requires you to reenter your password even if you checked the "remember my password" box.

Via CamWorld, Configuring Mail Clients to Send Plain ASCII Text

I'm currently on a mailing list where one of the members uses MSN for email and yes, it is very annoying to get email from that person in all HTML (when you are using an email client that doesn't support HTML and no, getting a new program is not the answer! (Anymore than forcing Microsoft Windows users to switch to something more sane, like Unix) It's nice to know there is a way that person can avoid sending HTMLized email, but somehow, given the instructions (and the @#$&@# attitude of Microsoft towards Internet standards and conventions) that this person will change.

Tuesday, July 17, 2001

Smoking—a retiree's civic duty!

Anti-smoking groups reacted angrily Tuesday to a report by cigarette giant Philip Morris that said tobacco could save a government millions of dollars in health care and pensions because many smokers die earlier.

Via Flutterby, Phillip Morris Report Attacked

Giggle. Sorry, but I found this quite amusing. Of course a tabacco company is going to say that! I mean, come on!

Wednesday, July 18, 2001

The Neverending Footnotes

Exit Strategy is a collaborative story where the main fiction has been written by Douglas Rushkoff, but footnotes are added by people going to the website. The story itself is set a few years in the future, but the footnotes are to be written as if it's 200 years further on and a bunch of archeologists and historians are annotating the book.

I'll skip the ethics of Douglas Rushkoff, who is expected to take the best footnotes and publish the result, giving the contributors a signed copy of the book (not all of which he wrote), but I find it neat that any portion of the book can be marked for connotation. You can even add footnotes to the footnotes and possibly even engage on a conversation with fellow anthropologists/historians.

The Peeing Car Part V—It Leaks Again!

Looks like I'll have to take the car back in for more A/C work. It's peeing again all over the passenger compartment.


Tuesday, July 24, 2001

I took Lake Lumina (as my friend Greg called it) to the dealership today to have them check out the A/C. The supervisor sighed when I told him the problem still persisted and that this is the fifth trip in to have it “fixed.”

I was waiting for him to

Thursday, July 26, 2001

Expensive Flutterbys

Before heading off to Oshkosh, Spring wanted to do something special and seeing how I live less than a mile from Butterfly World we decided to give the place a try.

I've been living next to Butterfly World for 10 years and I've never been there myself. So after lunch we headed on over to Butterfly World.

The place is currently being renovated so there's much construction going on. The main entrance is now on the side admist warning signs, exposed wiring and joists and conduits and sawdust. We snake our way around the exposed construction to the gift shop where you buy tickets into Butterfly World itself.

For US$13.50 per adult!

That's a bit more than we wanted to pay to see some crawling, flying insects so we made a quick tour around the giftshop (and it was your typical tourist trapish museumesque giftshop) and left.

The Standard Warentee Followup Questionaire, Part V

Each time I've had the car worked on for the A/C, a day or two later, the auto manufacturer of my car calls up with a followup survey asking me a few questions about the service.

This was the fifth time they called.

I'm now starting to answer the questions with “Can I get back to you on that?”

Oshkosh or Bust

Tonight is the night that Spring heads off to Oshkosh for AirVenture, a yearly convention of the aerospace industry. Greg got her tickets to attend, plus plane tickets. Spring is picking up Greg, then it's a three hour trip to Orlando to pick up their flight to Oshkosh. They'll be back sometime Sunday night or Monday morning.

And I'll spend the next few days catching up on stuff here.

Friday, July 27, 2001

Spodie's method of communication

I'm beginning to pick up on Spodie's preferred means of communication when he's peeved. He doesn't urinate on the carpet or clothes or anything. He'll meow. And if that doesn't work he'll start using his claws a bit more.

Like this morning. I'm sitting at the computer, replying to some email Spring sent me from Oshkosh when Spodie had to get to the top of Spring's monitor that instant, as quickly as possible.

And I was the spring board.

And he used his claws for traction, which not only punctured my pants, but punctured me in the process. It was just his little way of saying “Hey! Give me some food and clean the litter box while you're at it!”

What a pleasent experience it is to clean a cat's litter box.

“Now what?”

I'm not entirely sure what Spodie was peeved about this morning but for some reason he knocked his water bowl off the counter and onto the kitchen floor.


Could have been worse. He could have kicked the contents of his litter box out onto the kitchen floor.

My Hero—My Brother

For lunch my roommate Rob and I went to Tony Roma's. It's one of the few places we haven't tried around here and we figured “Hey! Why not?”

Along the wall near the booth was a collection of essays by local elementary school kids about their heros, and one particular one caught my attention:

My Hero

by Sean Conner

I hadn't realized I was in the first grade, nor that I had a brother.

Never laugh at stupid ideas

I needed to pick up some pet supplies for Spring's pets and the pet supermarket was across the street from Tony Roma's.

While there I saw what had to be one of the most inane items ever for a pet: dog gravy! Dog gravy! DOG GRAVY! Gravy you put on your pet dog's food! As I was telling Rob, “If they weren't making money off this stuff, they wouldn't make it.” Good Lord the profits these people are making off this stuff!

Saturday, July 28, 2001

An arresting wedding bath

I attended what could only be called a “wedding bath” today. My friend John Anstett is getting married in September (1ST of all days, so he's getting married on 9-1-1. Heh) but it's a very small ceremony and only a few very close friends and family are invited to the actual ceremony.

But in order to celebrate with all of his and his fiancé's friends, they're holding a party. And for a refreshing change, no one is expected to bring anything but themselves—no food, no presents, nothing.

I arrived to the club house to find police tape around the front door and chalk outlines on the driveway and no indication that a party was going on. Upon closer inspection, the chalk outlines all had smiley faces, and there was a poster on the front door congratulating John and Laura. So it appeared it was a theme party.

I entered, and John's brother Bob nailed me at the front door, took my mug shot and finger prints. Then I could enter the party. I did so, getting ink all over me as I attempted to clean it off with some goop that seemed to spread it more than remove it. I noticed that most people had red fingers and hands so it wasn't just me that had difficulty with the ink.

One game they had involved guessing the number of red hot candies in a clear red container. I had guessed 352 (big candies, very narrow container) which wasn't far off the real answer of 388. Alas I lost to a guess of 385.

Another game was matching up finger prints to mug shots, but I decided not to participate in that one, prefering to chat with people instead of peering intenting at Polaroids and smuged finger prints.

Requiem for a Fish

Survivor, a gold fish that survived a 1,200 mile trip south in a Tupperware container over several days, finally sucumed to an unknown disease today. He was found by his owner's boyfriend on his side wedged in between the side of the bowl and a statue of Neptune. He is survived by his owner Spring Dew and her cat, Spodie. He will be missed by all who knew him.

Memorial service and burial times to be announced.

Sunday, July 29, 2001

“So you wanna be in a Hong Kong Action Flick?”

Our normal Sunday game was called off, so Jeff Cuscutis (not to be confused with my other friend Jeff, aka JeffK) decided to play test another game called Fung Shui, which is a Hong Kong Action Film Role Playing Game (and not a Furniture Arrangement Role Playing Game as Jeff's fiancé likes to describe it).

The rules are set up to be very simple. There are only a few character classes to choose from (and you start with the pre-supplied template) and just like the movies, you can have it so you never run out of ammo (which I picked), can take out bad guys with a full cup of coffee (which my friend Kurt picked) and the hoards of nameless bad guys are all bad shots and are easy to pick off (which we both did).

It also encourages a cinematic style of play. Need to jump over a chest high shelf to avoid a wall of bullets in the convience store? Not a problem. Want to leap horizontally into the air firing two guns at a named villian in a crowded subway station? Go for it. The GM may even put the game into “bullet time” for you.

It's actually a perfect game for our Sunday group, who tend to shoot first and if we remember, maybe as a few questions later.

Tea with a Killer

It was a Hong Kong Action Film Theme Day Jeff Cuscutis, Kurt and I also watched John Woo's The Killer.

A disillusioned assassin accepts one last hit in hopes of using his earnings to restore vision to a singer he accidentally blinded, only to be double-crossed by his boss.

Plot outline from the Internet Movie DataBase

Guns and carnage a plenty in this film, but the best scene has to be at Jennie's (the singer) apartment. Two men, guns pointed at each other, carry on a civil conversation as Jennie serves them tea. The movie is worth it just for that scene alone.

Monday, July 30, 2001

Return of the Wayward Travellers

Spring and Greg returned from Oshkosh this morning. It seems their return flight was overbooked or missing or something silly like that and they ended up flying home on a different carrier, arriving back in Orlando later than they expected. And the drive back to South Florida happened in half hour spurts as they were too tired to really drive long distances.

I'm glad they made it back safely.

I'm also experiencing a bit of schadenfreude. Usually when I travel I have a miserable time doing the actual travelling while most (if not all) of my friends seem to enjoy travelling so it's a bit refreshing to see a travelling horror story happen to someone else.

1,000 Years

As suburban children we floated at night in swiming pools the temperature of blood; pools the color of Earth as seen from outer space. We would skinny-dip, my friends and me …

1,000 Years (Life After God) by Douglas Coupland

There is nothing quite like swimming on a hot muggy night in South Florida. The water tempurature is just right—enough to cool you off without having to suffer getting used to the tempurature.


And it's nice to have a friend like Mark who allowed Spring, Greg and I to swim in his pool at midnight.

Wednesday, August 01, 2001

The Lost Code

I just got a call from Chuck, whom I used to work with. It seems he needs to recompile a program I wrote years ago to a new platform but alas, he can't find all the source code to it. Specificially, he can't find the source code to a library I wrote it links against.

So I checked my system here. I'm surprised I don't have a copy of the library source code around. Granted, it's a very old version of a library I'm still working on, but I thought I would have had a copy of it.

I search around and find a 300M compressed archive of everything I had on the old development machine I did the coding on.

No luck there either!

You might think this is an isolated incident, but it's not. It happened to us once before years ago where we lost all the source code to a client's project. It happens. Code slips through the cracks.

“We're Condo Commandos! We have no life!”

The Condo Commandos here have struck yet once again. This time they left a note on the front door, threatening to tow Spring's van:


Okay, except for Rule 10, which goes:

  1. In order to maintain an attractive appearance, no sign, advertisement, notice or other lettering shall be exhibited, displayed, inscribed, painted or affixed, in, on or upon any part of the Condominium Property without the written consent of the Board.

I can't see anything that Spring's van violates. There's nothing in Rule 5 that her van violates, and in covering the van, we skirt around Rule 10. They may be trying to get us on Rule 21:

    1. For purposes of this regulation, a guest shall be a person to whom hospitality is extended without charge. An immediate family member shall be an owner's or lessee's parents, children, brother, sister, grandparents, or grandchildren, any of whom may be accompanied by his/her spouse and children. A House-sitter shall be considered to be in the same category as a guest.
      1. No limit will be placed on the length of stay of an owner's or lessee's immediate family members as guests. However, in the owner's or lessee's absence, such family members must be reported to the Board of Administration or to the Management Company prior to their arrival.
      2. When unit owner or lessee is not in residence and the guest is not a member of the owner's or lessee's immediate family, the length of stay is not to exceed twenty one [sic] days, in any four month period, unless prior approval is obtained from XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX Board of Directors.

I'm not absent, and Spring is family so we're covered there.

It's all about power.


“Video killed the radio star … ”

MTV is twenty years old.

I remember when they actually played music.

Old. I'm getting old.

Thursday, August 02, 2001

Using a computer during school is now illegal

Dempsey is talking about the bill's sweeping language, which punishes activities that affect a computer rather than ones that damage it or successfully penetrate its security. Contrary to what the name of the bill implies, the measure covers any school computer system, not just websites, and could criminalize pranks such as sending mail from a friend's computer when they've left themselves logged in.

Senator Targets School Hackers

Good lord I'm glad I'm no longer in school. If this had been around when I was going to school I would have potentially been arrested in 7th grade when I wrote the following program:

10 PRINT "some disrespectful remark about the teacher"
20 GOTO 10


Or perhaps I would have been arrested in college when I caused the computer screens to melt during class (fortunately, the Statutes of Limitation have run their course). Or when I snagged root access by exploiting X windows. Or even when I've sent email to a person who left themselves logged in (I did that one several times). Or caused … well, you get the idea.

I wonder what happened to the existing laws? I assume they're still around, right?

Friday, August 03, 2001

The following came through on a mailing list I'm on:

The Letters page of these magazines are as interesting as some of the articles. Of course, when we're talking about over 20 years ago in a hobbyist magazine, the letter-writers of one issue were quite likely to write articles in the next.

From David C. Broughton of Northwood, Middlesex, in the November 1978 issue:

Here is a little puzzle to test your readers' 8080 machine ingenuity:

“Imagine you possess an 8080 with 64K bytes of read/write memory which you want to clear. Write a program that sets all 65536 bytes to zero.”

It seemed like a fun little puzzle so I tried my hand at it.

The 8080 can address 65,536 bytes of memory, so the implication behind this is to clear all of memory, including the running program! Which means that the last instruction to execute has to clear out the last instruction! Since it's a byte addressed machine, that means that the last instruction has to pretty much be a single byte in size.

Not that big a deal. There are a few one byte instructions that write a byte to memory through an index register. Unfortunately, there are no “write-byte-increment-pointer” type instructions. So you need to increment (or decrement) the pointer. No big deal; there are one byte instructions to do that as well.

So, to write a byte and increment a pointer takes two bytes. So that's two cycles I have to go through, but depending on which direction I clear memory with (it doesn't really matter which way you go, as the address will wrap around anyway) I may wipe out the instruction with which I'm clearing out memory. At one point I had:

That didn't dawn on me until after an hour and a half of writing 8080 code (which I'm not terribly familiar with and all the references I have are for the Z80, which is a superset of the 8080.

Sunday, August 05, 2001


It's 4:30 AM, I'm driving and the radio is tuned to a dead local station. But the atmospheric conditions are such that I'm picking up two very remote stations across the meter wave of space. One is a Christian station playing traditional hymms; the other techno-trance. The blend of the two, and they blend rather nicely, is undescribably good. X-trance if you will.

It's always fun listening to the meter waves of space deep in the night.

Monday, August 06, 2001

“Rub-a-dub-dub, thanks for the grub. Hail, Superchief!”

2 BZ 4 church? No problem: thanks to cell phone “Short Message Service”, church can come to you. To help, a religious group has “translated” the Lord's Prayer into SMS shorthand. “Our Father, who art in heaven” is delivered as “dad@hvn” while “hallowed be thy name” becomes “urspshl.” The entire prayer fits the SMS limit of 160 characters—with 3 to spare. The group's spokesman says the prayer is “an experimental form of virtual worship.” (London Times) … Which is pretty much what all prayer is.

Via my dog wants to be on the radio, Lt Us Pra!

The English translation of the SMS translation of the King James translation of the Lord's Prayer reads like a Pigdin English as used by Aboriginees and Cargo Cults. Very strange stuff indeed.

Moving vans

Spring moved her van due to the impending towing the Condo Commandos have threatened.


Wednesday, August 08, 2001

Short-term networking

What we are seeing now is the same debate we had back in the months leading up to that day in Marina del Rey. It's the same tradeoff being considered. Should we optimize today's applications and patterns of usage by building functions into the network? Or should we find ways to optimize today's applications by building as little as possible into the core of the network?


A smart network will only hinder later innovations.

I never worked fast food for a reason …

Worse than the rat, worse than the dead frog, worse than eating a sandwich of yesterday morning coffee mold with chewed burger buddies and ranch sauce, I have seen office politics in a job lower on the food chain than a fried gopher. I have worked 45 hours a week at age 16 and my yearly pay remained far below the poverty line. I have seen my counterparts work 4 jobs, 90 to 100 hours a week, just for a roof over their heads and the chance to feed their children the same greasy undercooked leftovers that they can take home at the end of the night. I have seen the district manager walk into the store three times a week for 3 years and not once did he ask for my name. I flipped the fries. I made the hamburgers. I fried the chicken. I prepared the salads. I set up the shake machine. I cooked the eggs. I washed the floors. I cleaned shit off of the toilets. I made $5.09 an hour.

Via CamWorld, the Disgruntled Ex-Burger King Employee page

Any more of these anti-corporation links and people might just get the idea that I'm … oh … I don't know … un-American or something.

But you know what?

I don't care.

Nor do I care to work as a wage slave. I'd rather be poor and have my time to myself than to be rich and answer to 16 hour days and the bottom line.

And now I'm never using JavaScript …

I'm turning off JavaScript (or whatever it's being called these days) simply because I'm getting annoyed with all the pop-up and pop-down ads (pop-down ads are those that hide below the current window) and more and more sites are using. I'm getting annoyed with sites that force the window to be a certain fixed size. I'm sorry, I'm not running at 640x480 or 800x600. I'm running at some oddball screen size I like!

So what else is new?

Rob, my roommate, parked his 1972 Cadilac herse this morning and by the afternoon, it had the infamous orange towing sticker they use around here when they don't like the look of a vehicle.

The vehicle is no longer is commercial use—yet the Condo Commandos around here claim that it is. After all, what else is a herse used for but a commercial enterprise?

Rob called the Condo Commando in charge. All he got was “The Board is on my back. Get it out of here. You want to get lawyers involved? Go for it.” The Board is backed by the financial status of 400 units, ours included! Golden Rule (“He who has the gold, makes the rules.”) wins.

No one here is happy about it though.

“It's a novelization, based on a film, which in turn is based on a novel … ”

“Almost everything is nailed down,” the agent said. “We're just dickering over the novelization rights.”

“The what?” Setlowe said.

“The right to turn the film into a novel,” the agent said. “It's already a novel,” Setlowe said. “Remember that's what you're selling—a novel.”

“Oh,” the agent said.

Via Slant-Six, Lost in Translation

More on this later …

Friday, August 10, 2001

Reinventing Hotair

The quality of the line drawing is also conspicuously worse than that in Understanding Comics. The drawing in Understanding Comics looks as if it were drawn by a human hand - not a particularly proficient human hand, but a human hand nonetheless—whereas Reinventing Comics looks like it was drawn by a computer. Which it more or less was. According to McCloud, he drew it directly onto a computer using the latest technology to avoid the crude instruments of pencil and paper. The result is a dead line, stilted figure work, lots of scans, and some jazzy computer effects. It is for the most part visually grotesque and, more ironically even than Abraham Lincoln, a refutation of many of his grandiose claims about the superiority of computer technology over and against such antiquated techniques as applying ink to paper with pen or brush.

McCloud Cuckoo-Land

I've read both Understanding Comics and Reinventing Comics by Scott McCloud and yes, Understanding Comics is definitely worth the money. I'm not unhappy about buying Reinventing Comics as Gary Groth is (who wrote the review above) and while he does make some valid points, I think he does underestimate the new medium by quite a bit (but not as much as Scott McCloud went overboard about the Internet).

Like any medium, the current practitioners of art are leery about new advances—are they going to be obsolete? Less productive? Cast aside? God I gotta learn a whole new way of doing things? I'm unlucky enough to work in the Computer Industry, where this happens on a regular five year plan (if not faster). I'd love it if my skills were relevant for twenty years or more.

But I digress …

Not that I have much of a point to make here …

Reinventing Reinventing Hotair

Gary Groth makes a number of valid points in “McCloud Cuckoo-Land,” his two-part demolition of Reinventing Comics in Comics Journal #232 and #234. He's right that my book's optimistic tone largely neglects, to its detriment, some of the darker scenarios for corporate interference on the Web. He's right that 20th Century inventions such as radio and television received much the same over-the-top hype in their infancy as the Internet now does, and that much of the hype in both eras was (and is) nothing more than shallow, corporate manipulation. Groth is also correct to point out that my old series Zot! was far from the 1980's most groundbreaking comic, that 1998's The New Adventures of Abraham Lincoln was a widely-derided train wreck, and that my line drawings in Reinventing Comics were as stiff as a board – even by my standards.

Armed with such legitimate complaints, Groth broadens his attacks and attempts to persuade Journal readers that my belief in the potential of selling comics on the Web is a dangerous pipe dream fueled by corporate propaganda, while my ideas for the aesthetic potential of digital comics on the Web are crack-pot nonsense; and after a blistering array of attacks from every conceivable angle, I'm guessing many readers were indeed persuaded, if only by the sheer scale of it all. Those same readers were left, however, with a depressing choice at the end of this bloody massacre. Having so thoroughly excoriated the supposed blind optimism of my own suggestions, Groth proceeds to offer only bitter pessimism in return, never once in the course of 10,000 words allowing for even the barest hint of a benefit to placing comics online.

McCloud in Stable Condition Following Review, Groth Still at Large

Gary Groth had his say about Scott McCloud's Reinventing Comics, so here is Scott McCloud's reponse to that.

And he makes several good points about the several good points that Gary Groth made.

Just balancing out the viewpoints here …

No! I don't WANT THIS!

Subject: [RE:] Domain Name: JOYFULNOIZE.ORG
Date: Fri, 10 Aug 2001 10:48:56 -0400 (Eastern Daylight Time)


We've just been notified that you have purchased Great!

Now that you have your domain, wouldn't it be GREAT to have Wouldn't it even be better if you could offer FREE web-based email for your visitors?

Well now you can! For FREE!!! Using our web-based email, you will:

* Generate more revenue for your company!
* Get FREE advertising for your company!
* Increase the value of your domain name!
* Improve the "stickiness" of your site!
* And best of all, get email ASAP!

Go to to get started.


We believe this is a useful tool and hope you can take advantage. If you would prefer not to receive email from us, please reply to this email with the word “remove” within the subject line.


This just pisses me off! I registered yesturday! And this crap starts showing up. I may have to transfer the domains AWAY from Doster and to some other registrar.

Dear Mr. Bush

In my continuing quest to never be hired ever again by any sane company, I give you the following letter to George W. Bush that I received from a mailing list:

Mr. George W. Bush
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave.
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. Bush,

I heard you're taking a one-month vacation. Boy, that must really be nice.

Are there any public service jobs besides President where I could take an extended vacation after only six months of work?

Like most Americans, I only get two weeks off. And that's after I've been working for a full year. I figure the American people must be really nice bosses if they let you take so much free time to pursue your real interests, like jogging and video golf. I'd like to work for such nice employers too. Perhaps you could put in a good word for me with the Supreme Court? They seem to be giving away all the best jobs these days!

Enjoy your vacation, and don't let any pesky policy matters like health care reform, the environment or the economy get in the way of your leisure time.

Best to Mrs. Bush and those spunky twins!



PS: I heard you've also spent 14 weekends relaxing at Camp David, and took a long weekend at your family's estate in Kennebunkport—all in addition to the full month you've already spent at your ranch since becoming President. I don't blame you though. Those White House phones must never stop ringing! Maybe Mr. Cheney will pick up your messages for a while …

Yes, where do I get such a job?

But seriously, I expect this to be fairly common among CEOs because, well … they own the company (or rather, are paid insanely amounts of money to run the company) and all those trips out to the golf course are you know, business meetings.

Like how the World Bank meetings take place in expensive and exotic locations around the world …

Sunday, August 12, 2001

It was twenty years ago today …

It was twenty years ago today
That IBM arrived to play
In the home microcrocomputer market
A monopoly they were trying to get
So may I introduce to you
The computer that's been around
IBM's Personal Computer.

With apololgies to the Beatles.

18 Fatal Mistakes …

Spring and I watched 18 Fatal Strikes, a particularly bad martial arts film with horrible sound quality that required us to turn the TV up to 11 (the introduction by a member of the rap group Wu Tan was fine though) and some very silly martial arts styles (“My Kung-Fu is sillier than your Kung-Fu!” “No, mine is yet sillier!”).

The plot revolved around two brothers who's father (or master, I don't really recall) is killed by the evil overlord so between running back and forth between the local village and their home out in the country side, they take on the bad guys.

Tuesday, August 14, 2001

A worthless catagory …

Spring came across the word floccinaucinihilipilificatrix, but couldn't find a definition of it on the web.

I spent several minutes and found one.

Also, is taken. Darn!

Thursday, August 16, 2001

A rare interview

Christie: Well, let's talk about your peers for a bit.
Watterson: You're gonna get me in trouble.
Christie: No, no; you can say anything you want.
Watterson: Yeah, that's what's going to get me into trouble.
Christie: What about Gary Larson?
Watterson: I really like the lunacy of The Far Side. It's a one-panel strip so it's a slightly different animal than a four-panel strip like mine. I don't really compare one-panel strips to four-panels strips because there are different opportunities with each. Larson's working with one picture and a handful of words, and given that, I think he's one of the most inventive guys in comics. The four-panel strip has more potential for storyline and character involvement than just a single panel. But I do enjoy his stuff a lot.
Christie: What about Jim Davis?
Watterson: Uh…Garfield is…(long pause)…consistent.

Calvin and Hobbes at Martijn's—Interview

This is probably about the only interview Bill Watterson did. I'm a big fan of both Calvin and Hobbes and of Bill Watterson.

And even though I met Jim Davis (April 20, 1981 at 2:30 pm in Lauderdale Lakes Mall, which doesn't exist anymore), I can say for certain that Garfield is … consistent (although the earlier strips were much better than what is going on nowadays).

Update on Wednesday, October 18th, 2006

I found another interview!

Another rare interview

It's Monday, Apil 20th, 1981. My friend Hoade and I have been at the Lauderdale Lakes Mall all day, waiting to meet Jim Davis of Garfield. It was a big thing for the both of us, and fortunately for us, it was also the last day of Easter Vacation that year.

We were aspiring cartoonists back then, Hoade and I. He with his Bachelor's Pad (and what did a 12 year old know of bachelors?) and I with my Mr. Featherhead (subconsciencely stealing from Shoe according to Hoade; I still think otherwise). We bought our Garfield books with us that day (there were only three out in 1981) and a few strips to show Mr. Davis.

At 2:00 pm, we headed to the bookstore and waiting paitently in line with about two dozen other people; we were the only kids there, waiting our chance to meet with greatness. And at 2:30 pm, we were in front of the signing table, shoving our books and strips into Jim Davis' face. He was gracious enough to sign all of them and if we chatted, I've long forgotten what we chatted about.

The Miami Herald Morgue

This search feature includes recent articles and special archived subjects on our web site. If you would like to search for older articles dating back to 1982, visit the NewsLibrary. Searching the NewsLibrary is free but there is a fee to retrieve an article. [I guess this means I can't link to the article]

But while there, we met a reporter from the Miami Herald. She (and alas, I've forgotten her name) was impressed with the two kids waiting to meet Jim Davis that she wanted to do a human interest story on us. So the following Saturday, my maternal grandfather drove us all the way down to Miami for the interview. We even submitted both our strips.

Of course they printed Hoade's. It was the funnier of the two by far (nothing like a 12 year old drawing a strip of someone in their 20s beset with a huge hangover and hearing the grass growing outside). Mine never saw the light of day.

Ah well. I don't think I had the patience to draw a strip every day, even though I tried a few times afterwards.

Ripe for explosion

After reading a thread about Berke Breathed's interview in the Onion on Slashdot, I got to thinking about newspaper comics, and I'm of the opinion that the newspaper comic is truely a 20th centure phenomenon and that they won't really survive all that long in the 21st century (although they may be about for the next decade or so).

Just as the first newspaper strips started out in the 1890s (as we know them now), the first online strips, made exclusively for Internet distribution, appeared in the early 1990s, starting with Dr. Fun on September 23, 1993. While I wasn't around for the start of the newspaper comics, I was around for the start of online comics and I do remember downloading (via FTP when it first started, although it was also available on USENET (I don't recall which group though) as well. And now, eight years later (nearly), there are possibly more online comics than there are newspaper based comics.

The innovative strips are now being done on the web. And like the old joke goes, the good news is there are no editors; the bad news is there are no editors. Nor is there a syndication that will reject a strip because it's dull, racey, or not the current fad, or the next Garfield or any other number of excuses. Nor are there space or format restrictions (although most still follow the daily three or four panel format found in newspapers). It's an open field, ripe for exploration (and Scott McCloud is pretty much shouting this out to anyone that cares to listen).

Tuesday, August 21, 2001

Notes on a blog morgue

I'm getting closer to getting the Boston Diaries public (for now, I'm using Apache's mod_rewrite to hide the fact that this still isn't an Apache module. One day … ) so I started work on getting the archive section to work.

It's tougher than I expected. I somewhat knew this the first time I started talking about it (and ever since, see the Obligatory Sidebar Links). It's not really about the code, but about the design—how should I do it?

The problem I have is one of extreme flexibility here—the code allows me to display an entire year, an entire month, as well as a day and even arbitrary range of days. If a person selects the archive of a month, she should then get a list of days, plus maybe the titles of each entry—yet if she picks a large enough range of months (say, six months) then that might get too large.

So then I'm thinking that if the number of days exceeds some threshhold (like, 60 days) then just list the months and days, and if it exceeds some larger threshhold (like 180 days) then just list the months.

But then, if someone selects something like seven months, two full days and a half day, then what? Perhaps I should just give what was asked for. Perhaps.

I identified thirteen specific cases to examine:

SpecificationWhat I should return
nothing specified years only?
y list months
y/m list days and entries
y/m/d list entries
y- list months
y-y list months
y-y/m list months
y-y/m/d ?
y/m- list months
y/m-y/m list months
y/m-y/m/d ?
y/m/d- ?
y/m/d-y/m/d ?

[I should note that as I was doing the table, I originally had sixteen cases, but found out that three cases could not happen (which goes to show I don't even fully understand my own code) so I no longer have to worry about them.]

Entries are automatically archived, and displaying an arbitrary range works fine now; I want the archive list to work automatically too. I should be able to add new entries and have the computer do everything else for me. After all, isn't that what a computer is for?

Wednesday, August 22, 2001

Automatic navigation through a blog

While working last night on mod_blog, I also gave some thought to navigation and when to apply it. I figure the easiest way to handle this is to only apply navigation when the user selects either an entire year, month, day or single entry. In other words, when the user doesn't select a range of entries to display.

Later on, I can then work out how to handle navigation (“Next” and “Previous” links) on arbitrary ranged requests.


Spring was checking expired domains at Dotster and we came across some silly domains consisting of lots of A's followed by a word. I then decided to see if anyone had bothered to register and well: it is.

Update on Tuesday, March 12th, 2002

Received email from the owner of this domain, asking me to remove the information I received from Network Solutions. So therefore, the information is removed. Sorry about that.

Oh my.

Thursday, August 23, 2001

They're all on crack

Mark has written an embeded web server he's releasing as open source Real Soon Now, and a friend of ours, Andrew is writing up the documentation. He sent a question to Mark, who sent it on to me:

[The webserver] has a constant HTTPD_RESP_MOVED_TEMP set to 302.

RFC 2616 says that 302 means “Found”. 307 would be a “temporary redirect”, and 303 would be “see other”.

I don't see a clear correspondence here‥ can you explain your reasoning?

Under an earlier draft of the HTTP 1.1 protocol, a server response of 302 meant that the object in question is temporarily not available at the given URI, but elsewhere. In the newer draft it means something different, and a response code of 307 means the object in question is temporarily not available at the given URI, but elsewhere:

10.3.3 302 Found

   The requested resource resides temporarily under a different URI.
   Since the redirection might be altered on occasion, the client SHOULD
   continue to use the Request-URI for future requests.  This response
   is only cacheable if indicated by a Cache-Control or Expires header

   The temporary URI SHOULD be given by the Location field in the
   response. Unless the request method was HEAD, the entity of the
   response SHOULD contain a short hypertext note with a hyperlink to
   the new URI(s).

   If the 302 status code is received in response to a request other
   than GET or HEAD, the user agent MUST NOT automatically redirect the
   request unless it can be confirmed by the user, since this might
   change the conditions under which the request was issued.

      Note: RFC 1945 and RFC 2068 specify that the client is not allowed
      to change the method on the redirected request.  However, most
      existing user agent implementations treat 302 as if it were a 303
      response, performing a GET on the Location field-value regardless
      of the original request method. The status codes 303 and 307 have
      been added for servers that wish to make unambiguously clear which
      kind of reaction is expected of the client.

§10.3.3 of RFC-2616

10.3.8 307 Temporary Redirect

   The requested resource resides temporarily under a different URI.
   Since the redirection MAY be altered on occasion, the client SHOULD
   continue to use the Request-URI for future requests.  This response
   is only cacheable if indicated by a Cache-Control or Expires header

   The temporary URI SHOULD be given by the Location field in the
   response. Unless the request method was HEAD, the entity of the
   response SHOULD contain a short hypertext note with a hyperlink to
   the new URI(s) , since many pre-HTTP/1.1 user agents do not
   understand the 307 status. Therefore, the note SHOULD contain the
   information necessary for a user to repeat the original request on
   the new URI.

   If the 307 status code is received in response to a request other
   than GET or HEAD, the user agent MUST NOT automatically redirect the
   request unless it can be confirmed by the user, since this might
   change the conditions under which the request was issued.

§ 10.3.8 of RFC-2616

Okay, so I couldn't really tell the difference myself (except for the change of “might” to “MAY” in the first paragraph, and the addtional verbiage in the second paragraph, and the note added in § 10.3.3, there isn't any difference (and the additional text doesn't really clarify anything).

I wrote back:

They're all on crack.

My response: If you get a “POST <spec> HTTP/1.1” and you need to redirect the user to a temporary URI, send back a 307 with enough information to re-POST the information at the new URI, otherwise, just send back a 302.

The Blogger API via XML-RPC over HTTP on top of TCP/IP

I'm beginning to see what all this XML-RPC is all about. It's a more formal specification of the WWW CGI because I guess reading the HTML source and finding out the input fields for a form, then URLencode the data to call the external program is just too much work for some people.

I've done work before, using, I guess, a form of CGI-RPC to implement a program that does an Internet search using the major search engines to gather the results. And yes, it's was (and still is to a degree) a pain because each engine basically has a different calling convention (or API if you will). XML-RPC seems to be a way to standardize on an API, such as a search engine API.

Not that it's a bad idea, but XML seems a bit overbloated for me. But I guess for the type of services being done, like the Blogger API it's not that bad of overhead. And just think, if I can implement the Blogger XML-RPC API, not only can I claim alphabet-soup compliancy, but I can use several tools to write my blogger with, not just using a web form or email.

Friday, August 24, 2001

Polyglut Assembly Language Programming

The general idea behind an architecture spanning shellcode is trying to come up with a sequence of bytes that would execute a jump instruction on one architecture while executing a nop-like instruction on another architecture. That way we can branch to architecture specific code depending on the platform our code is running on.

Architecture Spanning Shellcode

I've been reading Phrack since the early 90s and I must say, the technical articles are getting better (but the publishing frequency could use some work). I've heard of polyglot programs, in which you attempt to write a single source file that can compile under multiple language compilers and/or assemblers. The trick to that is to find a combination of comments and statements to weed yourself to the appropriate code.

I've never heard of this being done, but it is an extention of the polyglot program idea—only here, you have to find a sequence of instructions that do nothing on one CPU while implementing a jump instruction for another CPU. And in this article, they manage to write common assembly code for the Intel x86, MIPS, Sparc and PCC CPUs. Very impressive.

Okay, so the goal is to write exploit code for multiple platforms, but as a purely intellectual exercise, it's pretty neat!

Friday, August 31, 2001

It's Bill Time!

It's bill time around here. The once a month ritual of going through the accumulated snail mail, tossing all the junk, and writing checks. I'm lucky in that all the bills are due around the same time, so I attempt to do this around the third week of the month, but usually it ends up being about the last day or so.

They (and although I'm not sure who they are, I suspect it's the same group of people who are classified as being experts) say that once you hit thirty, you are set in your ways, and being 32, I'm definitely set in my ways, and one of those ways is procrastination.

It'll be hard to change.

“Neither rain, nor sleet, nor dark of night … ”

Going through the pile of snail mail I find that my mortgage company never received my last payment. In the seven years I've been sending in my mortgage payment (to three different companies; curse those corporate mergers!), I've never had one lost on me, until now.

And here I thought that U. S. mail was sacrosinct—that it would always arrive and never be lost. That the U. S. Postal carrier would keep his appointed rounds through rain, snow or dead of night.

Time to update my answering machine message

Another annoying piece of news I received in snail mail is the new Florida area code of 754, which is overlaying the area code of 954 in which I live.

What this means is that any number I now get can be in one of five (5!) area codes—786, 305 (both Dade County, aka Miami), 954, 754 (both Broward County, aka Ft. Lauderdale) and 561 (Palm Beach County, aka West Palm Beach, dahlink!). The area code of my current numbers isn't changing—it's just any new numbers assigned get assigned to the 754 area code.

And if that weren't bad enough, it now means I have to dial 10 digits for most numbers, except those in north Broward and south Palm Beach, until April of 2002. Then all calls to Broward will require 10 digit dialing.


Another bit of annoying news from my phone bill: the FCC Charge for Network Access! It's $5.00 for the first line, then $6.95 for each additional line.

Excuse me?

Is this to disuade people from having multiple lines? Usually, additional items are cheaper, but I guess in this case the local ILEC had enough political clout with the FCC to charge more for additional lines.

“I want to own nothing, but control everything.”

And yet one more annoying item from todays phone bill. This time it's “Pay by Mouse! And Save a Tree!”

It's not that I'm against saving trees, but I'm noticing a very disturbing trend towards paperless currency. Direct deposit, direct billing, credit cards, even the toll roads now have transponders so you no longer have to stop and toss a few coins into a basket or towards the toll collectors. Every month I get bulletins and news slips extolling the virtues of never having to deal with checks again! Never have to lick those nasty stamps! And heaven forbid your check is lost in the mail!

I want to own nothing, but control everything.

—John D. Rockefeller

I suppose it's a form of Ludditism in me, but I'm comfortable with cash. It's anonymous, and at least it's still tangable, even if it is back only by the full faith in the United States Government.

I've had this conversation with a previous roommate many years ago, and it revolved around my fantasy of buying a car outright with cash (that I was actually able to fulfill two years ago) and that was a very stupid thing to do. It is, if you are filthy rich. If, on the other hand, you're in the lower income brackets or, like me, just really dislike car payments, then paying cash is still the best thing.

But why, if a person could easily afford it, not buy a car (or a house, or, well, anything)? Because that would mean they lose that money! For instance, if you have a spare $40,000.00 laying around (and come on, we all have that problem) then you can easily afford a nice Corvette. But but it outright, and you are out the $40.000.00 in cash you had. But instead, put down about $5,000.00, get the rest on a loan. And since you're obviously wealthy, you get a nice rate, say 7%. Take the $35,000.00 you didn't spend, and if you invest it you can get a rather conservative 20% return on that over the period of your car loan. You end up with one Corvette and $4,550.00 at the end of the car loan, instead of just a Corvette.

Okay, that $4,550.00 will probably be eaten up by insurance costs, but you get the idea. The money that otherwise would have been spent is instead invested and thus the rich get richer. Sweet deal if you can swing it.

One other aspect the very rich do (if they're smart) is to hand all their assets over to a trust, which they run. Any money they give to such a trust is tax deductable, and if you give enough of your income over to the trust, your personal tax liability goes down to nothing! Now, the trust may have to pay taxes, but the trust can do things to decrease its tax liability through business expenses and since you run the trust itself, you give half your income to it, then draw an income from it, and buy everything through the trust and write it off …

Hey, it worked for Nelson Rockefeller, who not only legally didn't have to pay taxes, but was also the unelected Vice President of the United States.

50,000 monkeys at 50,000 typewriters can't be wrong.

You know, there's something endearing about a celebrity who runs his own website. And no, he's not bitter.

Sunday, September 02, 2001

“The only limit is yourself … ” Go. Expand your mind. Feel welcome. Where the inifinite becomes finite. Where anything can happen. Welcome to

Tuesday, September 04, 2001

“Oh, you wanted something `useful?' ”

Spring is trying to export some mail from Outlook but it seems that Microsoft has deemed that the only thing you want to export your email to is Outlook Express.

Great! All her email is now in some evil proprietory format that makes it hard to do anything useful with. Yet another reason not to use Microsoft products.

Wednesday, September 05, 2001

T#!$ !$ @ W0R&

Spring, Rob and I went to Stir Crazy in Boca Raton for dinner. And as per the name, they do nothing but stir fry, either pre-selected dishes, or a “roll your own” buffet-type deal where you select everything. The food is good, and as Spring would attest, the Banana-Wanton Drink is to die for. But the decor—the decor bothers me.

Years ago in college, I took a Chinese calligraphy class, and while I can only “read” half a dozen Chinese characters, I do have an understanding of how Chinese characters are written. The reason I bring this up is that the interior of Stir Crazy is overwritten with that looks like Chinese characters, but in reality is some Western artist's rendition of what Chinese characters look like. No attempt was made to make acurate Chinese idiographs at all (and of the few that are real, they are either the simpler four stroke or fewer idiographs, or pure mistakes).

“Those characters,” I said, “are not real.”

“How do you know?” asked Rob.

“They're not real characters. They're nearly random strokes,” I said.

“But how can you tell?” asked Spring.

“By the way the characters are formed. That character there,” I said, pointing to a character with a decidedly circular formation on the wall, “the one with the circular oval about it. Chinese is written with straight strokes, not cicrular ones.”

“So it's misspelled?”

“More like it's meaningless. It'd be as if you wrote words with both random letters and shapes, like a triangle.”


Friday, September 07, 2001


I'm hosting a site for a group of friends. He's got nearly a gigabyte of files he wants to make available through the website. A gigabyte. It seems strange, but the fastest way to do that is still via sneaker net.

Now all I have to do is get another computer, take it down to the colocation facility, and transfer the data from it to the server. I really can't put the harddrive he gave me into the machine as it already is maxed out with harddrives, and besides, there is no way I want to interrupt a 280 day uptime.

Saturday, September 08, 2001

Am I descending into buzzword hell?

I've been reading up on XML and XSL and I'm seriously thinking of converting all my entries to XML and using XSL to do the conversions to HTML. There is a XML C library and an XSL C library so it shouldn't be that difficult to incorporate what I'm doing with this and package it all up as an Apache module.

Monday, September 10, 2001

“Sushi sushi sushi!”

As Spring says in her journal entry today, I was more or less Shanghai'ed to Mr. Sushi for a late lunch. It was rather disconcerting to see a menu filled with almost nothing but sushi. I was able to find something to my liking though: Teriaki Steak.

Now, the reason I dislike Japanese food goes to my general belief that animal based foods should be cooked before consuming. It also has something to do with very unfamiliar tastes and textures evident in Japanese (and to an extent in other Asian countries) cuisine.

Maybe six, seven years ago I was invited to lunch by the FAU Japanese Studies program, since I had several friends in the department, including the dean.

So we go to this Japanese restaurant to experience an authentic Japanese lunch. Never before have I ever so wished not to eat a meal. First, slimy cold brown noodles with a cold white sauce on top. Then a bowl, filled about a quarter to half an inch of broth with an artisitic arrangement of … vegetable cubes I suppose. Bitter mellon. Other, less identifiable bits of vegetation. Fried tofu, crusty on the outside, liquified on the inside. My Western palette found it quite disturbing. Then what was probably a Japanese quiche—a tall glass, into which I suspect raw egg was placed inside, along with unidentifiable vegetable matter and shrimp, then cooked in the glass. Serve.

And it went on and on. Plate, bowl, cup and saucer of alien food placed before me. Unlike my friends in the Japanese program, I'm not adventuresom enough to try exotic food stuff like whale sperm, raw puffer fish or octopus eyes. Cow and chicken is good enough for me. With the occasional lamb or pig.

Cat love

Spring's cat Spodie is licking my fingers. And his breath smells of cat food.


My friend Greg has no need for his Palm Pilot (color even!) so I've borrowed it on the premise that I can maybe develop some applications for it. I have a Newton, but while I've yet to learn NewetonScript, Palm Pilot applications can be done in C and Assembly (Motorola 68000 series, which I know).

I took the unit with me to dinner to see if I could write a journal entry, and well …

Lctt sec hou thit nos for a journa-sn®z.

Spring did no better with her attempt:

Asolen waffle toppe with breyers ice cream and your choics ot topping

TRANSLATION: A golden waffle topped with Breyer's ice cream and your choice of topping.

Here's my next attempt:

Okay, take 2, only much slower this time. And boy is this slow. The Newton has much better writing recognition than this.

I should note that the Newton (running 2.0 of the Newton OS) I could write like I would on a piece of paper and it would keep up with me, even though it's a 20MHz CPU with 6M of RAM. I'm not sure how fast the Palm Pilot is, but it has 8M of RAM, and even using a simplified writing alphabet (Grafiti) it still had problems keeping up with me.

We shall see.

Tuesday, September 11, 2001

Yet more reasons to lookout for Outlook

I tried sending Spring the following email:

Date: Tue, 11 Sep 2001 03:42:07 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Greg's Geocities Site


It seems that Lookout (another fine Microsoft product) had problems with that email. All Spring got was:

Date: Tue, 11 Sep 2001 03:42:07 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Greg's Geocities Site


Nice, eh?

Of course, in talking with Spring about it, she's of the opinion that this isn't a Lookout problem, as it's happened with someone else we know when he sent email to a mailing list.

Actually, now that I think of it, I think what's happening is that Lookout (and the mailing list software) is not RFC 822 compliant. Or at least, it gets a few details wrong. The line of text can be interpreted at a header line, but the email headers are separated by a blank line:


          A message consists of header fields and, optionally, a body.
     The  body  is simply a sequence of lines containing ASCII charac-
     ters.  It is separated from the headers by a null line  (i.e.,  a
     line with nothing preceding the CRLF).

§ 3.1 of RFC 822

What the programs in question seem to be doing is looking for the first line that doesn't seem to be a header line, and ignoring blank lines altogether.

You know, there are standards for a reason … [As I was writing this entry, I sent another test to Spring, making the first line appear to be a header line. She got the message as I sent it. Perhaps Lookout is explicitely looking for H-T-T-P-: … ]


Spring awoke to the sound of someone pounding on the front door. At the door was Greg in a panic. “Don't you guys answer the phone? Turn on the TV!”

We turned it on at 10:28 am, EST, just in time to watch the World Trade Center 1 crumble to the ground.

What a way to wake up.


It was very surreal, watching the coverage of the World Trade Center collapse. Watching the 767 fly into WTC 2 over and over again, thinking back to January of 1986. Or even back to August of 1992, as I sat in the closet watching Hurricane Andrew on the TV as it was thundering its way through our very town.

It didn't seem real. It's too big. The World Trade Center. Gone. Thousands of people, dead. The Pentagon on fire. Four hijackings, at three airports, all within an hour.

Greg was hit very hard by the news. “This is America,” he said. “This isn't supposed to happen here.” He's never seen the WTC in person, nor did he know anyone there, but his reaction was deeply personal. Spring was also hit hard—knowing several people living in New York City, having visited the World Trade Center, and as a former US Army soldier serving in Desert Storm.

I wasn't affected quite as bad. Oh yes, it's horrible what happened, but it wasn't the first time we've had terrorist attacks on our shores. The World Trade Center Bombing in 1993. The Oakland City Bombing in 1994. And (and as far as I've been able to tell, the only one who remembers this) the attempt to bomb the Washington Memorial in 1982. There is nothing you can do to stop a dedicated person (or people). You can raise the bar, but there may be someone who is willing to go higher.

John F. Kennedy once said that there was nothing he, nor the USSS could do if someone really wanted the President dead. I've heard that he said that days before (if not the day before) he was assinated. And obviously, there were about 18 men who wanted to show the US what terrorism is really like.

Wednesday, September 12, 2001

New Land Rush

[I originally wrote this on September 9th, before the horrible events of yesturday. I decided to keep it in here. –spc]

From some spam I received on the 9th it seems that the new TLD .INFO starts resolving today. Let the money games begin!

This is no Pearl Harbor

I'm watching the talking heads on the TV claim over and over again that the World Trade Center Attack is another Pearl Harbor.

This is no Pearl Harbor!

Pearl Harbor was a millitary attack on one sovereign nation's naval base by another sovereign nation's navy. The enemy was easily identifiable and most, if not all, of the causalties were millitary personel. The reasoning for the attack is understandable (if not forgivable).

The World Trade Center Attack was an as yet unidentified paramillitary or religious group attack on a purely civillian target. The enemy is not easily identifiable, most, if not all, of the causalties were civillians and the reason for the attack is not understandable at all (at this time; we're still trying to figure out who did it).

And like Pearl Harbor, it was an unexpected attack on the United States. That's about the only similarity between the two.

Galaxies Are Colliding

To get away from all the recent depressing events, Spring and I hit the local Lackluster to rent a few movies. She hadn't seen Real Genius, which is one of my favorite films. I, on the other hand, hadn't seen The Full Monty. So we grabbed both films.

It was only after we put the tape in did we realize that we had not rented The Full Monty, but instead had picked up a copy of Galaxies Are Colliding. And it wasn't a case of the wrong tape being in the right box, but the wrong box (with the wrong tape) being on the shelf in the wrong place.

Or something to that effect.

We decided to give it a whirl as we dyed Spring's hair. And we both kinda liked it.

Monday, September 17, 2001


I received a notice in snail mail today that my second mortgage payment didn't arrive. This is getting annoying. So I called up the friendly 1-800 number they provided.

“Please press one … ” the oh so chipper recording said. “Please press two to …. Please press three for …. Please press four to talk to a represenative.”


“Please press one to talk to a represenative.” Pause. Wait a second, didn't I just select this option?

Beep. “Please stay on the line. A represenative will be with you shortly.” Light heavy metal started playing. Waiting. Waiting. I get a beep, notifying that I have a another call coming in. Nice! I thought. The second I click over, the friendly represenative will be available, find me not on the line, and I'll have to do this all over again! I click over.

“Hello?” I said.

“Oh, sorry, wrong number!” The person hung up.

Oh, that was short, I thought. I clicked back over. Industrial Barbara Streisand was now playing. I thought the lacked conviction for her cover of “Closer” myself. But her cover of Napalm Death's “Conservative SXXthead” was spot on. Another click. Oh no, not another call!



“Hello, yes. I'm calling to offer you a Dillards credit card and—”

“I'm not interested!” Time was running out. Any second now a represenative could hop on the line and I'd be screwed.

“But sir, the rates on this card are very low and—”

“I'm sorry,” I said, the anxiety rising in my voice. “But I'm not interested!”

“Okay, thank you. If you have any questions or … ” Yada yada yada. Once she finished rattling off the ending pitch, I switched back over. Luckily, they had now moved on to Trent Reznor covering “Memories” from Cats so I still hadn't missed the represenative.

Finally, just as I was giving up all hope of a represenative ever taking my call, one got on the line. I was able to check that indeed, they had actually received my last check and to ignore the notice.

I'm glad that was cleared up.

Funny, but only if you know RFC-822

I'm trying to reach some people at a particular ISP, and since I haven't heard from them in some time, sent email to noc@XXXXXXXXXXXXXX, postmaster@XXXXXXXXXXXXXX and root@XXXXXXXXXXXXXX just to make sure that maybe, just maybe, someone there would notice.

I just got this back:

   ----- The following addresses had permanent fatal errors -----

   ----- Transcript of session follows -----
... while talking to mail.XXXXXXXXXXXXXX.:
>>> RCPT To:<postmaster@XXXXXXXXXXXXXX>
<<< 550 <postmaster@XXXXXXXXXXXXXX>... User unknown
550 postmaster@XXXXXXXXXXXXXX... User unknown

Um … RFC-822 has this to say about postmaster:


          It often is necessary to send mail to a site, without  know-
     ing  any  of its valid addresses.  For example, there may be mail
     system dysfunctions, or a user may wish to find  out  a  person's
     correct address, at that site.

          This standard specifies a single, reserved  mailbox  address
     (local-part)  which  is  to  be valid at each site.  Mail sent to
     that address is to be routed to  a  person  responsible  for  the
     site's mail system or to a person with responsibility for general
     site operation.  The name of the reserved local-part address is:


     so that "Postmaster@domain" is required to be valid.

     Note:  This reserved local-part must be  matched  without  sensi-
            tivity to alphabetic case, so that "POSTMASTER", "postmas-
            ter", and even "poStmASteR" is to be accepted.

§6.3 of RFC-822

It's a requirement that postamster exist as a valid email address for any domain accepting email. So the ISP in question is violating an RFC. Tsk tsk tsk.

Wednesday, September 19, 2001

A History Lesson

The way history is taught today is a travesty that will only come back and haunt us. Ceej talks about this a bit more in her journal (scroll down a bit, it's the third section of that day's entry). Will we end up in World War III over the event of last week? Hard to say, but if history is any guide …

Time to spoil

“I'm hungry,” Spring said. “And I don't want to eat quesedea.” She was refering to the leftover meal from La Bamba, a Spanish/Mexican restaurant down the street.

“Well,” I said. “There's cereal.”

“Yes, but that means I have to use the milk which expires at midnight.”

“Midnight? I hardly think that the milk is going `Ah, 11:59, I'm still good. I'm still good. Ah, midnight! Time to go bad!' ” I said.

She looked at me funny. “Obviously you don't know milk,” she said. “Midnight! Time to spoil!”

Spam spam spam spam!

For the first time in my life, I actually ate Spam, the spiced ham product from Hormel. Spring bought some the other week, and tonight she fried it up.

She wasn't quite used to using non-Teflon coated frying pans, nor used to the control on the stove, so it ended up taking a bit longer than she expected, and smoked the place up, but the fried Spam was actually quite tasty, especially the more carbonized pieces. Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

“Did you know,” said Spring, “That the Hormel company actually held a naming contest for Spam and the winning name was `Spam?' ”

“Yes, well, Spam was developed back when, the 40s? 50s?” I asked.

“30s, actually,” she said.

“Back then, the name as a product was probably not a bad name at all—nothing bad associated with it,” I said.

“To me it's the sound a pig makes hitting the bottom of an elevator shaft.” I love Spring.

How Osama bin Laden resembles Napster

In the course of pondering the recent terrorist attacks on American targets, I realized that it signifies an important shift in the behavior of people within world civilization. This shift has been away from large centralized structures towards smaller, increasingly autonomous (but interconnected) structures. An interesting thing about this shift is that, in terms of progress, it's almost counterintuitive.

the post-centralized world and how Osama bin Laden resembles Napster

The Gus is on to something here—there does seem to be a paradigm shift (if I may be excused for using such a term) going on.

Years ago, as a kid, I couldn't see myself living anyplace where I couldn't receive TV. Of course, growing up I was spoiled by living between the two major television markets of Miami and West Palm Beach, so I got two of ABC, two NBC, two of CBS, two PBS and a host of independant stations, for a total of maybe 20 broadcasting stations. TV. I needed my TV. Now, however, I no longer really watch TV, but now I can't see living anywhere without Internet access.

But if Osama bin Laden can conduct highly effective terrorist activities from a place like Afghanistan, then maybe, just maybe, the world is slowly decentralizing and the need for cities is lessened. And like The Gus, I can only hope “that there are more overwhelmingly more people interested in trading music than in killing themselves as a means to injure the Great Satan.”

Thursday, September 27, 2001


I'm too lethargic to be apathetic.


From what little I've already seen so far, Ninjai, the Little Ninja is an incredible work of Flash animation. Haunting visuals, a compelling story (Who is Ninjai? Even he doesn't know) and a beautiful sound track (yes, they do their own soundtrack). Well worth the viewing.

Friday, September 28, 2001

Log file fun

“So, how do I check my logs?” asked Spring. Now that I host her site, she finally has total access to her web log files.

“Well … first you need to install a program like F-Secure,” I said.

“I have to install a program?”

“Or SecureCRT or something like that. Hold on, I can get you the link—”

“I think I already have it,” she said. Sure enough, she had F-Secure—an installation Wlofie did earlier. We spent the next hour or so futzing around getting it to work under Windows 2000. It was installed under Windows 98, but not under Windows 2000, so it was getting a bit confused I guess because of a lack of registry entries. So I deleted it, and reinstalled. I then walked her through logging onto, the co-located Linux box her site runs on, and I have her a few Unix commands to scan the file.

We then spent the next few hours going through her log files (which start on August 23rd, when I took over hosting her site) and seeing the type of traffic she gets. And like my site, she gets a lot of traffic via search engines, using such terms as tasteful nudes, illegal nudes and Veruca Salt (played by Julie Dawn Cole in Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory). Although some of her pages have been found with some very odd terms, but then again, some of the terms that people find my pages with are very odd indeed (masturbation being one of the more popular ones, but people looking to make napalm are probably disapointed in my site, along with getting a good car deal).

More log file fun

Spring downloaded a web log analyzer program, since I have yet to actually install one on the server (the people who have sites here either don't care for their stats, or have enough technical savvy to scan the log files manually). So she downloaded one, and it asked for the location of the log file.

“Oh,” I said, “you can FTP it down.”

“Then why all the fuss with F-Secure?” she asked. “I could have used NoteTab.

A blank look crossed my face. “Um … ”


“Because … that's how I check my log files?” Grovelling I think saved me from being thwacked up-side the head.

We downloaded the log file, then played around for about twenty minutes configuring the program to process the log file. It wasn't clear what needed to be set up, nor did the program really give any errors or indications of what it might need. But eventually we got it going. Impressive output; pie charts and all.

Not sure what it's called though.

Saturday, September 29, 2001


“I've figured out why humans say `Ow!' when they're hurt,” said Spring.

“Really?” I said.

“Yes,” she said.


“Ow. It's the sound we made when cats attack us.”

“Like last night with Spodie. Did you hear me?”

Spring schrunched up her face. “I don't think so,” she said.

“He was on the small bookcase,” I said, refering to a chest high book shelf that brackets one side of the entrance to the bathroom. “When I past by, heading towards the bed, he swiped,” I said, making swiping motions with my hands, “and got me in the back. Ouch.”

“Yes,” she said. “You see, way back in pre-history, when cats attacked us, we made all sorts of sounds until someone finally hit upon `Ow!' which, in cat-speak, means `Get the fXXX off me!' And it stuck.”


“Yes.” She smiled. “It's only a theory, mind you.”

Sunday, September 30, 2001




Tuesday, October 02, 2001


Spring finally convinced me to take some OTC medicine for my congestion and while the first few hours where really bad, I've generally been feeling much better as time goes on.

My relunctance for using OTC medication is that as a kid, it never really seemed to work as advertised, and as I've gotten older, I've learned that it's best to listen to my body and actually rest when I get sick, as apposed to loading up on drugs and carrying on with my day like nothing is wrong (which, to me, is wrong).

But I suppose that in certain cases (like what I have now) it's sometimes best to both listen to your body (“Sleeeeeep! I need sleeeeeep!”) and help it along with medication.

Lost Wages

Dad called tonight to see how I was doing (better) and to relate his tales of being in Lost Wages (Las Vegas). Even though it would have cost him the price of dinner to fly there—round trip to/from Los Angeles is now US$25, but he decided to spend a few hours driving in the back deserts of California, hitting such places of high culture as Amboy.

Then again, since he's been living in California, I've never know him to actually fly to Lost Wages, preferring to drive the Californian back desert, so that's actually nothing new.

But Dad said that Lost Wages is pretty dead since the 11th of September and officials of Lost Wages are doing their utmost to get people there, including ridiculous airrates. I think the most expensive I've seen is US$75 round trip, and that from New York City.

So, that got me thinking. Hoade and I have been meaning to head to Lost Wages for some time now. Lost Wages is a Hoade type of town—or rather, it used to be a Hoade type of town in the 50s and 60s with the Rat Pack swinging in town, Martini in hand at the craps table and Vinni waiting patiently to knee cap the poor looser who attempts to welch his debts.

Not that Hoade gambles.

Anyway, I figure this might be as good a time as any to head on out there, seeing how cheap it is. As if it wasn't cheap before.

Wednesday, October 03, 2001


I'm reading The Epicene Prounound on Kuro5hin and about the lack of a gender neutral prounoun in relationship with people—it not having the right connotations for people. The example being used in the discussion, “When the president calls, tell [insert pronoun for president] to call me back,” replacing [insert pronoun for president] with it changes its meaning (what? The president is a bug-eyed alien?).

In the discourse, solution was “When the president calls, tell'em to call me back.” Em. A bit of linguistic play going on there. The general (possibly incorrect solution) of using they as a singular gender-neutral pronoun is still in effect, but maybe there's something there. “Let em who is without sin, cast the first stone.” Not too bad, but it only covers him/her and not he/she. Possibly ey?

Then again, I should probably read the Gender-Neutral Pronoun FAQ.

The Chaos

The Chaos

by Charivarius (G. Nolst Trenité)

Dearest creature in creation,
Study English pronunciation.
I will teach you in my verse
Sounds like corpse, corps, horse, and worse.
I will keep you, Suzy, busy,
Make your head with heat grow dizzy.
Tear in eye, your dress will tear.
So shall I! Oh hear my prayer.

Just compare heart, beard, and heard,
Dies and diet, lord and word,
Sword and sward, retain and Britain.
(Mind the latter, how it's written.)
Now I surely will not plague you
With such words as plaque and ague.
But be careful how you speak:
Say break and steak, but bleak and streak;
Cloven, oven, how and low,
Script, receipt, show, poem, and toe.

Hear me say, devoid of trickery,
Daughter, laughter, and Terpsichore,
Typhoid, measles, topsails, aisles,
Exiles, similes, and reviles;
Scholar, vicar, and cigar,
Solar, mica, war and far;
One, anemone, Balmoral,
Kitchen, lichen, laundry, laurel;
Gertrude, German, wind and mind,
Scene, Melpomene, mankind.

Billet does not rhyme with ballet,
Bouquet, wallet, mallet, chalet.
Blood and flood are not like food,
Nor is mould like should and would.
Viscous, viscount, load and broad,
Toward, to forward, to reward.
And your pronunciation's OK
When you correctly say croquet,
Rounded, wounded, grieve and sieve,
Friend and fiend, alive and live.

Ivy, privy, famous; clamour
And enamour rhyme with hammer.
River, rival, tomb, bomb, comb,
Doll and roll and some and home.
Stranger does not rhyme with anger,
Neither does devour with clangour.
Souls but foul, haunt but aunt,
Font, front, wont, want, grand, and grant,
Shoes, goes, does. Now first say finger,
And then singer, ginger, linger,
Real, zeal, mauve, gauze, gouge and gauge,
Marriage, foliage, mirage, and age.

Query does not rhyme with very,
Nor does fury sound like bury.
Dost, lost, post and doth, cloth, loth.
Job, nob, bosom, transom, oath.
Though the differences seem little,
We say actual but victual.
Refer does not rhyme with deafer.
Foeffer does, and zephyr, heifer.
Mint, pint, senate and sedate;
Dull, bull, and George ate late.
Scenic, Arabic, Pacific,
Science, conscience, scientific.

Liberty, library, heave and heaven,
Rachel, ache, moustache, eleven.
We say hallowed, but allowed,
People, leopard, towed, but vowed.
Mark the differences, moreover,
Between mover, cover, clover;
Leeches, breeches, wise, precise,
Chalice, but police and lice;
Camel, constable, unstable,
Principle, disciple, label.

Petal, panel, and canal,
Wait, surprise, plait, promise, pal.
Worm and storm, chaise, chaos, chair,
Senator, spectator, mayor.
Tour, but our and succour, four.
Gas, alas, and Arkansas.
Sea, idea, Korea, area,
Psalm, Maria, but malaria.
Youth, south, southern, cleanse and clean.
Doctrine, turpentine, marine.

Compare alien with Italian,
Dandelion and battalion.
Sally with ally, yea, ye,
Eye, I, ay, aye, whey, and key.
Say aver, but ever, fever,
Neither, leisure, skein, deceiver.
Heron, granary, canary.
Crevice and device and aerie.

Face, but preface, not efface.
Phlegm, phlegmatic, ass, glass, bass.
Large, but target, gin, give, verging,
Ought, out, joust and scour, scourging.
Ear, but earn and wear and tear
Do not rhyme with here but ere.
Seven is right, but so is even,
Hyphen, roughen, nephew Stephen,
Monkey, donkey, Turk and jerk,
Ask, grasp, wasp, and cork and work.

Pronunciation—think of Psyche!
Is a paling stout and spikey?
Won't it make you lose your wits,
Writing groats and saying grits?
It's a dark abyss or tunnel:
Strewn with stones, stowed, solace, gunwale,
Islington and Isle of Wight,
Housewife, verdict and indict.

Finally, which rhymes with enough—
Though, through, plough, or dough, or cough?
Hiccough has the sound of cup.
My advice is to give up!!!

The Lesson

Never drink Coke after you've been detoxed of caffiene and need sleep.


The Drop

Amazing. I just watched Spring's cat Spodie bat a plastic bowl in the kitchen sink to empty the water out of it (never mind that it's his water bowl—he only drinks out of it if he thinks it's not for him you see) then grab it with his mouth, hold it over the edge of the sink and ceremoniously dropping it onto the kitchen floor.

The Diner

I remember when I went away to college down at Villanova in Pennsylvania… there was the Villanova Diner located on the main strip within walking distance from campus. It was like my second weekend during my freshman year, when I and a bunch of fellow Jerseyans I had become friends with excitedly decided to go there after leaving a party. As we got closer, we couldn't help but notice that the lights weren't on in the place. “How can this be?”, we wondered. As we got to the door and looked at the operating hours of the establishment, we couldn't help but be bewildered that a building that clearly had the word “Diner” hanging above it closed at 10 pm?!?! Everybody's reaction was the same‥ “This isn't a XXXXXXX diner.”.

The Beauty and Allure of … the Diner.

All I can say is that the Boca Diner isn't. Neither is Lester's Diner or the L&J Diner. The Clock is. The Starlite Diner is (with two locations in Moscow).

Denny's isn't. It's a place to go when there are NO other places to go at 3:00 am in the morning.

Friday, October 05, 2001


“Jared!” said Spring, leaping up from bed and heading off to the Computer Room. Scary thing was, I knew exactly what she meant.

Tuesday, October 09, 2001

Florida—What a state!

Mark used to work just a few buildings down from American Media Inc., the company where Robert Stevens contracted anthrax. First, voting irregularities in the 2000 Presidential Elections. Then the terrorists who flew into the World Trade Center (and the Pentagon) may have been living in Delray Beach, Florida. And now this …

I bet the Florida State Board of Tourism is having fits over this.

Navigating a blog

Over the past few hours I've been working on the navigation code for this blog. And it isn't easy. I decided to forgoe adding navigation to the main page (while it's easy enough to find the previous seven days worth of entries, I don't think it's quite worth it yet to calculate the previous seven days entries but that may change) or to arbitrary ranges (that was hard enough to get right, and I still think there might be bugs in that code—not show stopping bugs, but there are probably some marginal cases where the code doesn't display what I think it should). I'm only handling the simple queries that bring back either a year's worth, month's worth, day's worth or the previous/next entry. Just to calculate the previous entry is a hundred lines of code. I could probably tighten that up a bit, but I'm still getting a handle on this, so I'll keep it verbose for now.

Network Polution

I finally got my invoice from Network Polutions for my domain, Or, as Network Polutions, uh, Verisign calls it, my Web Address. Morons.

To make it worse, there's an ad for where I can get an appraisal of my domain. Just think, I could be sitting on a goldmine! Imbicils.

To make matters worse, they send me an invoice for US$70, which renews my domain for two years. I don't want to renew my domain, sorry, web address for two years—not with these idiots. But, I can renew online and well, will you look at that! If I renew online I get 10% off a two year renewal. But not if I renew by check (my preferred method of payment). And I get a choice of renewing for only a year. Words fail me.

I'd switch registrars, but with my domain up for renewal, I don't want to risk loosing it entirely if I decide to switch now (and I've already gotten junk snail mail offering just that. Sigh) and the potential for it to be totally munged up for weeks on end.

So I'm sending a check to renew for one year and once that clears, then I'm switching.

Mid-air save

LONDON (Reuters) - A British constable hurled himself off a cliff after a suicidal man, catching him in mid-air and saving his life, a police spokesman said on Friday.

A Sussex police spokesman said Constable Trevor Perks, who was strapped to a safety harness, managed to catch the man by the scruff of his neck as they both tumbled down the cliff side.

Man Saved by Mid-Air Grab

Spring sent me this one, as Trevor Perks is on a mailing list she's on. She was wondering why people were congratulating him and offering to make an action hero out of him.

Spring also said he volunteered last month to be pepper sprayed in order to test a new formula.

I guess some people just aren't satisified with sipping coffee and watching Survivor.


Of course, the technique isn't practical for all songs. For instance, composer John Cage's “As Slow as Possible,” which is currently being performed in Germany, begins with a silence that lasts 16 months, followed by a single chord to be played on Jan. 5, 2003, then another silence, then another chord on July 5, 2004, and the final chord in 639 years.

The Science Behind the Song Stuck in Your Head

Guess you won't have to worry about being earwormed by that song, but the article does go into depth as to why certain songs cause people to be earwormed. My Sharona!

Wednesday, October 10, 2001

unmarked white vans

“Look,” said Spring, “over there.”


“There,” she said, pointing out the car window. “There's another one.”

“Another what?” I asked, stealing glances as I drove.

“An unmarked white van.” Sure enough, there was an unmarked white van. “And look, there's another one,” she said, pointing elsewhere. Yup, another unmarked white van.

In fact, once you become in tuned to white vans, you can't but help to see them; they're everywhere! Over the course of a few miles we must have identified nearly a dozen of them in the area. Mysterious. White. Unmarked. Hard to see the drivers.

I wonder if it's some sort of … you know …


Hi! On behalf of the MWCGGBUMHHWDSSESFGBLW group, I'd just like to say … Hi! We're a loving, accepting group of Eclectic Wiccans who worship the LIGHT! We believe that you can't hurt anything, because the rede says so! So we don't eat animals, because animals are people TOO! You know those meanies say that plants are alive too but they're just huffy because they're carnivorous and angry and not enlightened like us. But you look like a really NEAT person! You just might be PERFECT to join our group!

Greetings From The Fluffy Bunny Coven!

Um … yea.

Bouncy bouncy bouncy

I received some email from my old alma matter, Florida Atlantic University, from the Computer Science and Engineering Department. Now, you would think that of any department there, that the CSE Department would know how to run a mail system. But it seems they might have had a problem today:

from ( []) by (8.8.7/8.8.7) with ESMTP id MAA20467 for <>; Wed, 10 Oct 2001 12:52:54 -0400
from ( []) by (8.9.3/8.8.8) with ESMTP id MAA20374; Wed, 10 Oct 2001 12:50:52 -0400 (EDT)
(from majordomo@localhost) by (8.9.3/8.8.8) id MAA27498; Wed, 10 Oct 2001 12:50:38 -0400 (EDT)
from ( []) by (8.9.3/8.8.8) with ESMTP id MAA27494 for <>; Wed, 10 Oct 2001 12:50:37 -0400 (EDT)
from ( []) by (8.9.3/8.8.8) with ESMTP id MAA20364 for <>; Wed, 10 Oct 2001 12:50:40 -0400 (EDT)
(from serge@localhost) by (8.9.3/8.8.8) id MAA27488 for; Wed, 10 Oct 2001 12:50:32 -0400 (EDT)
from ( []) by (8.9.3/8.8.8) with ESMTP id IAA23558 for <>; Wed, 10 Oct 2001 08:36:08 -0400 (EDT)
from ( []) by (8.9.3/8.8.8) with ESMTP id IAA11902 for <>; Wed, 10 Oct 2001 08:36:08 -0400 (EDT)
from ( []) by (8.9.3/8.8.5) with ESMTP id IAA08861 for <>; Wed, 10 Oct 2001 08:36:10 -0400 (EDT)

Seems trout couldn't handle reality today. Heh.

Thursday, October 11, 2001

Notes from a restaurant staff meeting

Rob and I went to T.B. O'McFlynnagans for a fairly late lunch/early dinner. We were sat near the back of the restaurant and while dining, we couldn't but help overhear their general staff meeting (since the restaurant was nearly empty of patrons).

“We're discontinuing the World Trade Center promotion,” said the manager. “T.B. O'McFlynnagans just donated over a million dollars toward the relief fund, which is more than any other restaurant has done.”

“But, like, what if one of the, like, customers, asks, or something?” asked one of the waitrons.

“Just tell them T.B. O'McFlynnagans has dontated over a million dollars. No other chain has matched that. For instance, XXXXXXXXXX grosses only three or four thousand dollars, and at ten percent, that isn't much money. Heck, today we might gross six thousand, and at 10% it isn't that much. So just tell the customer that we gave over a million dollars. Okay?” I'm guessing heads nodded, as I was actually facing away from the meeting.

“Okay. Now, the flags are coming down,” said the manager. I looked around the bar area, and taped all around it were American paper flags; every visible surface area had a paper flag covering it. “They've been up since the attack, and I think it's been long enough.”

“So, dude, can we, like, keep them, dude?” asked another waitron.

“Yes. If you want.” Pause, while I assume the manager was looking over the assembled workers. “So, we're no longer doing the promotion and if customers complain, oh well. And the flags are coming down. Anything else?” Apparently not, for the meeting ended right there.

Notes about a rainbow

Driving back from dinner Rob and I saw a perfectly formed rainbow across the sky, and just above it, so faint that it could be barly made out, a second one.

12. And God said, This is the token of the covenant which I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations:

13. I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth.

14. And it shall come to pass, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow shall be seen in the cloud:

Genesis 9:12-14

While in the Western world a rainbow is seen as something good, in certain tribes in the Amazonian basin, rainbows are considered to be an ill omen or of evil. I don't know for sure, but my guess would be that in the jungles, animals that are poisonous to eat show this through bright colors in their skin or plumage, while non-poisonous animals are more earth colors—greens or browns. So things that are brightly colored should be avoided, and because rainbows are brightly colored, they too, bode ill.

Conversation about Spam

“You actually like Spam?” asked Mark. “I don't believe it!”

“Yes,” I said. “It's actually quite good.” JeffK made gagging noises. “Hey, have you actually tried it?”

“Yes,” said Mark. “It's gross. And do you know what it looks like coming out of the can?”

“Yes,” I said. “It pretty much looks like the can, only pink.”

“Who introduced you to Spam?” asked JeffK.

Spring,” I said.

“And you fry that up?”

“Well, Spring actually does the frying,” I said. “It's really good fried up. Why don't you try some?”

“No thanks,” said Mark. “Why don't you try it, Jeff?”

Jeff balked. “Well … only if you try it too!” he said to Mark.

“I'm not trying it, I have an excuse not to eat pork products—Jewish.”

“Convenient,” I said.

“Of course.”

“Well if he's not trying it, I'm not,” said JeffK.

Guess my friends just won't know the wonders of Spam.


Mark, JeffK and I decided to play a game of Scrabble®. Mark had never played before but JeffK and I told him the rules wheren't that hard. What was hard was the game we played. I went first, with a 22 point ZIT. Mark went second, with a three point LIE and then JeffK went, with a 22 point QAT. The game went downhill from there; the bulk of the words being formed in the lower right hand corner of the board (the upper left hand corner never did get used). The play of the night had to be JeffK's 54 point play of KITES and RAMPS (the S sharing a Tripple Letter Score spot). Needless to say, JeffK won the game. Mark did respectable for his first game ever.

Friday, October 12, 2001

“Hey, let's give it to Mikey!”

I'm beginning to think that the CSE department at FAU can't run a mailserver. I received two more pieces of email from the department, and in both cases it's bouncing around from server to server, which looks like each server is going “Me deliver this? I don't want to deliver this. Here, you deliver this.”

unmarked white vans ii

Fourty-one. They're everywhere, I tell ya. Everywhere!

The Hallmark Kid

During lunch, I grabbed the latest copy of the New Times, a local free paper here in Lower Sheol. Normally, I wouldn't mention it at all, except for the headline:

Ryan Lipner's infatuation with all things Hallmark seemed harmless enough—until he turned to a life of crime

The Rise and Fall of the Hallmark Kid

What? Is he like the Riddler? Leaves a greeting card behind on every one of his capers? Is he a supervillian? How odd …

Saturday, October 13, 2001

Afghanistan—it's a dangerous place

Gone were the network war hogs who hiked in from Peshawar and wrote stirring tales of muj bravery. Now sleek white UN turboprops off-loaded female journalists in waiting chauffeur-driven black Mercedes. Over lunch and dinner at the UN mansion (with exercise room, satellite television and bar) they chronicled the horrors of the lack of health care, the treatment of women and generally how life sucked and apparently just for women. There was even a standard journo junket. The first stop was to see Mullah Qalaamuddin, the deputy head of the Religious Police (the Department for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice), where every writer was assured to get a few giggles from the latest fatwah: no paper bags, no white socks, four fingers of beard and no picture-taking. Then off to a barber for a little humor, a clandestine visit to a girl's school, pack a lunch for the Friday executions and then back to Peshawar to file. The object of their journalist lust? The dreaded burqa, a garment worn by every women outside of cosmopolitan Kabul for centuries but suddenly held up as being a sign of the devil in Kabul. Not many paid attention when Hekmatyar made it mandatory long before the Talibs showed up. The writers never really mentioned that they were in the most destroyed city on earth, a militarily occupied zone with a war raging 15 kilometers to the north, rockets raining into the city and young men are pressganged. Somehow in their zeal to create women's rights in a country staggering to its knees, they forget to mention the complete lack of jobs, housing, medical care, health services and education for men (who must provide for their women and children) let alone women. The articles inflamed the world and shut down any aid to the wartorn region. How did the Taliban get lynched on women's rights? It's akin to taking the KKK to task for not providing minority scholarships.


This is a fun site. The commentary is colorful yet very informative, using humor to get the point across—this (and every other country profiled on the site) is a very dangerous place to be, and why the place is dangerous.

They even give background information on the Players in the area, like this on the Osama bin Laden:

So let's just say Binny is the bearded Ross Perot of the Middle East. Technically Binny Bang Bang (he keeps going an going and going and going …) can now join Castro and Qaddafi for drinks at the Bad Boy's Club, unless the United States keeps turning off his cash flow. A man with 40 brothers, 13 sisters and wealthy patrons can probably play hide the pickle longer than the State Department can. For now bin Laden is a right-wing billionaire (or millionaire or even destitute, depending who you talk to) who combines industrial activity with political activism.

Afghanistan-Osama bin Laden

Or even this on the Taliban:

The black-turbaned Taliban are a PR agent's worst nightmare. A visual mix of Darth Vader gansta rappers and rejects from a Bible play, they come to press conferences with Noriega-style Ray Bans, scruffy beards, long black robes, armed bodyguards and an attitude that makes Louis Farrakhan seem like Mr. Rogers. The Taliban are not bad guys, they're just a little rough around the edges and they don't get out much. Maybe a guest shot on Oprah with a sensitivity coach would help them "address their issues." Their leaders are primarily 40-something muj selected from the Durrani tribes from the backwater southern provinces of Helmand and Uruzgan. They are a simple, pure people led by very religious but culturally isolated mullahs who want outsiders out of Afghanistan and to establish a pure Islamic state. They are simply mad as hell at foreign intervention and ain't gonna take it any more. The funny thing is their northern enemy says they are just the latest Pakistani-backed stooges in this too-long-running war movie/soap opera.

Afghanistan-The Taliban

You should probably just go read the site before I quote it in its entirety here.

How to even describe this thought

I just had a weird thought.

Native Americans, those that where here before the European invasion of 1492 and covering those of both North and South America, are genetically incapable of growing facial hair.

The Taliban made it a crime to have a beard less than four finger widths in length, and if it isn't long enough, you spend time in jail until you have one long enough.

So, does that mean that a Native American, assuming one would want to, can't belong to the Taliban? He probably can't become an Orthodox Jew or even become an Amish Mennonite.

“Although,” said Spring when I told her this, “the Amish might be more forgiving and let one become a member.”

“But in the Amish community, when a man becomes married, he has to let his beard grow,” I said.

“Okay, then maybe a Native American who becomes Amish can't get married,” she said.

Like I said, it was a wierd thought.

Sunday, October 14, 2001

Post Apocalyptic Boca Raton

Spring and I were hanging out with Mark, Kelly and Adam when I suggested we take a walk. It was an option earlier in the evening but we found ourselves bowling, Denny's and finally back at Mark's. All agreed except for Adam, and after a long conversation about which vehicle Adam would drive home, either the Mitubishi SUV or the BMW 325i (he was renting both, but lending one of them to Mark—don't ask, long story) he left (in the BMW 325i as he had a date later on) and the rest of us took a walk through residential Boca Raton.

We ended up in a section of Boca Raton just east of FAU where Mark and Kelly showed Spring and I an abandoned section of Boca Raton which was very interesting.

It seems that during the late 60s/early 70s a developer had built some roads and put up four demo homes in this particular area and thought he could get approximately $100k per home, when homes in that area at that time were going for $50k-$70k per home. No one bought in, and after awhile the demo homes were knocked down and the area left to itself.

The roads are still there but are mostly overgrown and you can't even see the area from the populated roads immediately around it. Water and electrical services are still there; it's just waiting for some developer to buy the land and start building, but we decided to head back there during the day to take pictures and document the area before anything happens to it.

It's about the closest you'll get to a post-Apocalyptic Boca Raton in Boca Raton, and I'm amazed it's been like this for so long.

Almost live

Just finished up with some last minute bugs in mod_blog and now it's pretty much ready to go live. I now need to write lots of verbiage describing what I'm trying to do, but reguardless if it's ready or not, it will go live by Tuesday, the latest.

Woo hoo!

In going through past entries testing the navigation, I realized that I had actually repeated myself. On April 20th of last year, I wrote about Hoade and I meeting Jim Davis (who we meet on April 20th of 1981). I also wrote about it this year on August 16th.


I get the feeling I may repeat myself from time to time.

Tuesday, October 16, 2001

Hey! I know him!

Oh my!

It seems that my friend Ken and his Significant Other made the front page of the USA Today Money Section. The article is about couples that both loose their job and how hard it is to survive in these lean uncertain times.

Ken is managing by forming a company with his Significant Other in order to keep the money coming in and them under their new house.

Oh my!

Van Gush

Spring and I were out buying a mattress (my twin bed mattress is not cutting it; neither is Spring's futon mattress) when we noticed a copious amount of radiator fluid underneath the van. She popped the hood and it looked like a small hose came loose and was draining all the fluid. But it was on the bottom of the engine block, so it was hard to reach it from the top, and nearly impossible to see it from the bottom without getting an eyeful of chemicals.

Spring tried reaching down but when she grabbed the hose it fell off. It was a small segment of hose, maybe five inches in length. Fortunately, there was an auto repair shop next door. Unfortunately, the auto repair shop was closed (it being 6:00 pm and all), but fortunately, there was an auto parts store across the street. We decided to load up the van with the mattress and drive there.

They couldn't help us. No one there knew anything about vans, and even if they did, Margate city ordinances disallowed anyone making vehicle repairs in the parking lot (according to a sign on the building).

We then decided to attempt the drive home and hope the tempurature would stay low. We got about two miles before having to turn into a parking lot and shut the engine off to cool it. Spring was jonesing for a cigarette so we got out of the van to walk to a gas station on the other side of the parking lot when we realized we parked right in front of an auto repair shop that was still open!

We have to leave the van there overnight while they check it out. Meanwhile, we called Rob to pick us up at the repair shop.

Wednesday, October 17, 2001

Van Gone

The repair shop called today—the bottom of the radiator is completely rusted and needs about $1,200 for repairs. Spring had been thinking about selling the van anyway, since it had been overcome by entropic forces anyway. She was able to sell to one of the mechanics.

We headed over there to clean out the contents. Unfortunately, we had to leave the mattress there since it wouldn't fit in my car, but we made plans to transport it home with Rob since he has a vehicle large enough to transport it.

When tuna goes bad

“Hey, what happened to the tuna?” I asked. There was a small Tupperware container of tuna in the refrigerator.

“I gave it to the cat,” Spring said. “It was old and kinda off. You can't eat that, but the cat can.”


“Yea, dogs and cats have great immune systems—it comes from licking your butt.”


Thursday, October 18, 2001

On Hearses and Mattresses

We had a rather busy afternoon today. Rob, Spring and I spent a couple of hours having lunch and picking up a mattress.

Lunch was at Stir Crazy's, with the misspelled Chinese words but the food is good.

We then drove to pick up Rob's hearse. Yes, he owns a hearse. A 1972 Cadillac Hearse. The thing is huge. The thing is purple. The thing is feared and hated by the Condo Commandos so Rob parks it at a local storage facility.

We drive over to the auto repair shop to pick up the mattress. They were rather amused to see a hearse pull up, and even more amused when we loaded the mattress into the back of it (it almost laid flat—yes, the hearse is that big).

Then home, a quick unload of the mattress, and then back to the storage place before the Condo Commandos give us any grief.

hack hack hack

Lots of work on the code that drives the Boston Diaries. Lots of clean up work.

The Creature Wasn't Nice

Late in the evening, Spring and I met Mark and Kelly at a restaurant for dinner, then over to Mark's house to watch a movie.

We ended up watching The Creature Wasn't Nice (aka “Naked Space”). It starred Cindy Williams and Leslie Neilsen as crew members aboard an exploration starship that is being terrorized by a large slimy, gelatinous creature. It's amusing, but it just doesn't sink to the levels of badness that Plan 9 from Outer Space achieves that makes it worth the trouble of seeing.

The Creature Wasn't Nice isn't a film I would go out of my way to see, but if it's there, and there's nothing else worth watching, then yea, I'll watch it.

Friday, October 19, 2001

They're everywhere …

When we got home from Mark's there was a message on the answering machine (we got home around 2:30 am):

“Hi, this is Mark. On the way to drop Kelly off where I work, about two miles from my home, to get his his car,” said Mark, “we saw three unmarked white vans. Just thought you might want to know.”

I'm telling ya …

Almost there

You may have noticed some rather odd entries yesturday that are no longer there. Well, I was testing a bunch of code that allows me to post entries via email or a web page form. I then had to test code to test a configuration file (to allow more than one blog on the system) and I'm finding that the code to generate the RSS file is buggy and misses entries. It has to do with how I internally store entries.

But aside from that, it's pretty much done now. All that's left now is to move the programs over to the server, copy the archive over, install everything, and then it'll be live.

Woo hoo!

Oh, also expect to see a bunch of new entries for the previous days pop up at odd times too. I have notes, but I have to actually write the entries.

Saturday, October 20, 2001

M & N's—the candy of the web

Stop! Go back and re-read the subhead above—at least 2–3 times—then let it sink in before continuing.

The sentence above illustrates the proper use of the hyphen and the two main types of dashes. They are not the same, and must not be confused with each other. In some fancy fonts the difference is more than just the width—hyphens have a distinct serif. If you don’t know the rules already, let’s review them. First, though, a definition:

An “em” is a unit of measurement defined as the point size of the font—12 point type uses a 12 point “em.” An “en” is one-half of an “em.”

Via Jeffrey Zeldman Presents: The Daily Report, A List Apart: The Trouble With EM 'n EN

So it made sense to use double hyphens (–) instead of em dashes and double primes (") instead of quotation marks. In any case, those workarounds were already familiar to anyone who’d grown up with typewriters, and readers adapted to ascii-only typography during the early days of the Internet when usenet, email, and the web all shared the same primitive markup and text display.

These days, standards-compliant browsers can handle entity names, and even Netscape 4.x can manage numeric entity codes—but why should you care? After all, using the technically correct punctuation marks would mean a dozen new entities to be memorized and a lineup of well-meaning but under-informed editors and teammates to win over—and retrofitting any significant amount of copy is always a hassle.

Also via Jeffrey Zeldman Presents: The Daily Report, A List Apart: Typography Matters

It may seem strange that a programmer would care about typography, but it's not unknown—Donald Knuth took 10 years off writing The Art of Computer Programming to write the computer typographic system, TeX.

So I wrote some code to translate some of the more egrarious hacks I've been using to get what I want, and converted over using the proper characters that are available. And yes, I checked the the Usual Suspects (Lynx, Netscape, Mozilla and Microsoft IE) and they all support the characters (well, Lynx as best as it can) required, so that's that.


In preparing to go live, I'm going through the past entries and making sure that they're consistent with what I'm doing now, and attempting to validate my documents to HTML 4.01 Strict.

So far it's taken me a few hours to go through December 1999, January 2000 and February 2000 and the current entries. And in doing so, I found out a couple of things I didn't know about specifying URLs within the <A> tag: You have to escape any ampersands in the URL!

News to me, but I suppose if I read the spec carefully enough it would be apparent, and all the browsers I checked (Lynx, Netscape, Mozilla and Microsoft IE) all handled it correctly.

So it looks like that I might want to add code that accepts the entries to make corrections in the HTML code I type in. Maybe even include the code I wrote earlier so I can still type “ and not &#8220;.

Tuesday, October 23, 2001

A quick synopsis of Atlas Shrugged

Someone on a mailing list I'm on asked for a synopsis of Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. Since I had read it (a few years ago) and no one else had yet written one, I decided to jump in and provide it. So, here for your reading enjoyment is my quick synopsis.

“Who is John Galt?”

“I dunno.”

“Oh Dagny!”

“Oh Hank!”

“Isn't unbridled capitalism and selfishness grand?”

“And aren't socalists, communists, Kantian philosophers and Shakespearean actors the epitomy of evil?”

“Oh Dagny! I want you to have my hot new metal for your railroad!”

“Oh Hank! I want your hot new metal. Give it to me! But first, let me expose my shoulders.”

“Who is John Galt?”

“I still don't know.”

“Oh Francisco, why did you let them nationalize your copper mines? You Socialist turncoat! Hank needs your copper for his hot new metal!”

“Oh Dagny, I did it to show how evil it is for government to nationalize industries. Don't you understand? Joh—Someone told me that it was in my best interest to let them see the folly of their ways.”

“I don't fully understand, but I still like you.”

“Care to expose your shoulders to me?”

“I like you, but not that much.”

“Who is John Galt, Dagny?”

“He was an engineer for a company, who, with his incredibly rational and objective mind, made a perpetual engine machine but his company went socialistic so he left taking his idea with him, and dropped out of society, Hank.”

“My God! He was a God!”

“I must find him!”

“Care to expose your shoulders to me?”



“Oh woe is me! Francisco disappeared! Hank disappeared! What else can go wrong?”

“Hi. I'm from the government. I'm here to nationalize your railroad.”

“Over my dead body.”

“Give up!”

“Never! I think I'll go look for Franscisco and Hank!”

“What happened?”

“Your plane crashed in the middle of the Rockies, Dagny.”

“Where am I?”

“A capitalists wet dream of a utopia. I didn't save you because I'm altrusitic. The price you have to pay is to bare your shoulders to me.”

“Who are you?”

“John Galt.”

“Oh God, I'm having an orgasm! Of course I'll bare my shoulders to you.”

“The country is in ruins! What ever shall we do?”

“Let's nationalize everything that hasn't been nationalized and go on television to tell people it's for their own good.”

“But we can't! Someone took over all television transmissions!”

“Hi. This is John Galt. Communism is bad. Socialism is bad. Kant is eeeeevil. So was Shakespeare. Greed is good. Altruism is bad. So is charity … ”

Five hundred thousand hours later …

“This is John Galt, signing off.”


“Isn't it wonderful? I showed the world how bad communism, socialism, Kantian philophies and Shakespearean plays are. Now the world as we knew it is dead! We can leave our Utopia and take over the world, Dagny!”

“Oh God, I'm having a orgasm! Here John, let me bare my shoulders to you.”

Good news is no news at all

I've long given up reading, listening and watching the news; it's just too depressing and makes me want to crawl up into a hole to avoid the nasty horrible world that we live in.

Okay, so it's a form of “poking my head in the sand” response, but it keeps me sane and happy, instead of psychotic and depressed.

So now it seems I should stop reading Slashdot. Between the DMCA forcing Alan Cox to censor the Linux Kernel changelog, Microsoft calling viruii “Industrial Terrorism” (no doubt using the September 11th attacks for publicity), the FBI wanting to see every packet, any article about the SSSCA, and unreasonable searches when going to and from work I'm afraid to say anything, much less step outside the door of the condo here.

Whatever happened to “News for Nerds. Stuff that matters.”? Or does this mean I should pull my head out of the sand?

The Bluescreen of Bliss

I'm reading CamWorld and I come across a link about Microsoft's new default background screen. The author of the piece claims it looks like the set from the Teletubbies, but I think it looks more like the set for the movie Toys.

But in any case, what exactly is Microsoft trying to say here? Their customers should be treated as children? That their operating system is nothing more than a toy? Come on, what could they be thinking?

Scientists drink beer to solve problem

The phenomenon of beer turning skunky after exposure to light has been reported in the literature for more than 100 years, Forbes notes, but only now have scientists pinpointed the underlying mechanism. Using a type of spectroscopy that exploits electron spin, the researchers compiled a computer simulation of the reaction by which light-sensitive molecules in hops degrade into unpleasant-smelling products.

Via techdirt, Chemists Determine Cause of ‘Skunky’ Beer

I don't drink beer (I don't really care for the taste, stinky or not) but a few friends of mine do drink it, so I'm passing it along.

Limited, sure. Compared to the age of the Universe …

Finally, the case of Dmitri Sklyrov is perhaps the most appalling of all. Among its other problems, the DMCA has taken what has traditionally been a civil matter (copyright issues) and criminalized certain actions. Dmitri Sklyrov wrote a program that removes protections from Adobe e-books, restoring traditional fair-use rights to e-book owners. Furthermore, he wrote this program in Russia, where it is not illegal. His company (and I don't believe there are any claims that he did this personally) distributed his unlocking software from a U.S. website, and on the basis of this Sklyrov was arrested when he made a trip to the U.S. Sklyrov has actually spent time in jail on these extremely flimsy grounds, and faces a criminal prosecution in the matter. Despite the fact that Adobe has subsequently said it doesn't wish for Sklyarov to be prosecuted, the government is continuing in its case. This is apparently the reward that the government gives for people who stand up for their fair use rights under copyright law, and is the primary reason I'm remaining anonymous.

Interesting Rant on Copyrights Along with MS DRM Crack

Aside from the rant (which should be read) this issue brings up an interesting way to do an end run around the Constitution. I'm sure the Founding Fathers had no idea that corporations could get so powerful but well, they have and it does suck.

Wednesday, October 24, 2001

Oh, yea. I don't really need that …

I read about a devloper making a program that allows him to make blog entries from his Palm Pilot and I thought You know, I have this Palm Pilot here—I can do something similar. I then played around with the Pilot for a bit until I realized that hey, I have an email interface to my journal, the Palm Pilot has an email interface … um … I don't actually need to do anything …


“I'll pencil you in for a race tomarrow … ”

“Hey! You wanna race?”

“Hey! You! You wanna race?”

Spring and I turned to see who was talking. We were in the car, sitting at a red light and the driver of the car next to us was motioning at us. “Yes?” I answered.

“Hey, you wanna race? Test out your engine. Maybe lay some rubber?”

“Um … ”

“No, I don't think this car can handle it,” said Spring.

“You sure?”

“Yes,” I said. “I don't feel like racing tonight.”

“How about tomarrow? If I see you tomarrow, maybe then we can race?”

“I'll think about it.”

“Yea? Yea. Good.” The driver then faced forward to wait for the green light. We turned back to watch the light.

“Hey!” We turned back towards the driver. “I'm sorry. Please excuse me. I've have a very harrowing day.”

“No problem,” I said as the light turned green and he drove off.

“Why I always carry a steering wheel.”

After not racing the other driver, Spring and I drove to the Starlite Diner for dinner. As we were eating a guy walked in, a steering wheel in his hand, like he always carried a steering wheel in his hand.

“Must be a theft deterrant,” I said.

“Must be,” she said.

After eating we were walking towards the car when we saw a fire engine red 60s convertable sans steering wheel. “Definitely a theft deterrant,” I said.

“Unless you have a wrench or another steering wheel,” said Spring.

Lemon Aid

I was checking my email when Spodie, Spring's cat, lept up on my desk, like he usually does. Only instead of using it as a launch pad to the top of Spring's monitor, or walking around my monitor to stuff his tail up my nose, he started gnawing on the USB cable attached to my webcam. I swatted him, so he decided to use my desk as a launching pad to the top of Spring's monitor. But in doing so, his paw hit the middle button on my mouse.

A bit of a digression is needed here. My primary system runs Linux, which means that I typically run the X Window System. On the X Window System, the middle mouse button will automatically does a paste operation. I also use elm to read my email. End of digression.

So the upshot is that Spodie sent a barrage of random commands to elm and it started beeping and booping and generally getting locked up tight. I closed the window to kill the application as Spring literally tossed Spodie out of the Comptuer Room and shut the doors (which required some effort on her part as they didn't really want to shut).

No harm happened to my email—it was more annoying than damaging. But keeping the door closed meant the room became an uncomfortable tempurature, as well as keeping Rob out (which we don't really want to do).

Sorry, another digression. Earlier in the day we went food shopping and one of the items we picked up were a dozen lemons for fresh lemonade. Spring likes lemonade, and she made a batch as soon as we got home.

Yet another digression—cat's hate the smell of lemons. It's a natural cat repellent.

So, wanting to keep the doors open, Spring fished out the lemon rinds, stringed them on a cord, and stretched it across the doorway—all to keep Spodie out of the Computer Room.

Somehow, I suspect we may have a bit too much time on our hands.

Thursday, October 25, 2001

Collapse of the Internet

I received the following in email today from my old college (where I still have an account):

Date: Wed, 24 Oct 2001 16:35:28 -0400
Subject: CSE-UGRADS: CSE Department Seminar- Friday 10/26
Precedence: bulk
Status: RO

A reminder that the next lecture in our Department Series is scheduled for this Friday, October 26th at 11AM in room 309.

Dr. Borko Furht will give a seminar on:
   “Internet Glory and Collapse”

All are welcome, refreshments will be served.

Isn't it nice to know that the Internet has already collapsed? Nothing to see, move along, get back to normal.

In other email, I got something from, but that's just regular spam for a porn related site. Figures.

“Set the Wayback machine to 1996, Sherm … ”

Oh my. I just came across the Internet Archive Wayback Machine, with an archive of the web going back to 1996. Okay, it may not be the entire web, but as they state:

You are about to use the world's largest database. With over 100 terabytes and 10 billion web pages archived from 1996 to the present, the Wayback Machine puts the history of the World Wide Web and the sum of all human knowledge at your fingertips. To start surfing the Wayback, type in the web address of a site where you would like to start, and press enter. Then select from the archived dates available.

I tried it on an old URL of mine:

And yes, it did fine a link to that page, and unlike Google's cache, it includes the picture that was on the site at the time. Quite impressive.

I then decided to see if I could resurrect the site my old partner Chuck had, but the site kept giving me internal server errors. Hmmmm …

“I'm the boss … ”

Well, Spring was able to find Chuck's old page at the Internet Archive Wayback Machine. Cool, now you too can see what Chuck looks like.

“I'm the boss … ”

Well, Spring was able to find Chuck's old page at the Internet Archive Wayback Machine. Cool, now you too can see what Chuck looks like.

Friday, October 26, 2001


Or should that be “where the film has been”? Unlike “The Sixth Sense” and “The Usual Suspects”—indeed, unlike almost every other celebrated “puzzle film” in cinematic history—“Memento's” puzzle can't be undone with a simple declarative explanatory sentence. Its riddles are tangled up in a dizzying series of ways: by an elegant but brain-knotting structure; by an exceedingly unreliable narrator through part of the film; by a postmodern self-referentiality that, unlike most empty examples of the form, thoroughly underscores the film's sobering thematic meditations on memory, knowledge and grief; and by a number of red herrings and misleading clues that seem designed either to distract the audience or to hint at a deeper, second layer of puzzle at work—or that may, on the other the other hand, simply suggest that, in some respects, the director bit off more than he could chew.

All of the notices about the movie have told us that the story is told in reverse order. We hear that Leonard, played by Guy Pearce (“L.A. Confidential”), kills the murderer of his wife in the film's first scene, and that the film then moves backward from that point, in roughly five-minute increments, to let us see how he tracked the guy down, ending with what is, chronologically, the story's beginning.

It turns out that this is a substantial oversimplification of the movie's structure—and that's just one of the surprises that unfolds once you look at the film closely.

Via /usr/bin/girl, Everything you wanted to know about “Memento” (spoilers)

It sounds like a very intriguing movie—one that goes on the “to rent” list.

Patent nonsense

In fact, nine of the 16 claims on Sorensen's patent relate to the waffling. What requires so much elaboration? "Spacing. Depth. All sorts of things," Sorensen offers, then fesses up. “Basically the attorneys write a bunch of b.s. and hope they bore the patent examiner to death and he'll approve it.”

Fighting off Starbucks

Mark filed a patent while working for a previous company. I saw the original idea, and he read me the original patent before being submitted to the patent board at the previous company. He also read me the patent after it came back from the patent board and I swear, I wouldn't have recognized it at all. Mark barely recognized it. The lawyers made all sorts of extra claims because of the parts involved. They removed some claims because of the parts involved.

I think the lawyers basically made stuff up and turned it into Legalese™ in order to keep their jobs.

Saturday, October 27, 2001

The Mother of all Demos

On December 9, 1968, Douglas C. Engelbart and the group of 17 researchers working with him in the Augmentation Research Center at Stanford Research Institute in Menlo Park, CA, presented a 90-minute live public demonstration of the online system, NLS, they had been working on since 1962. The public presentation was a session in the of the Fall Joint Computer Conference held at the Convention Center in San Francisco, and it was attended by about 1,000 computer professionals. This was the public debut of the computer mouse. But the mouse was only one of many innovations demonstrated that day, including hypertext, object addressing and dynamic file linking, as well as shared-screen collaboration involving two persons at different sites communicating over a network with audio and video interface.

Doug Engelbart's 1968 Demo

It's interesting watching the demo. There's a keyboard in the center, a rather large unergonomic looking mouse to the right, and a 5-key chorded keyboard to the left. Other than the shape, the mouse is easily recognizable as a mouse (a three button mouse no less). The chorded keyboard is rather odd (and something that didn't make it in today's mass market). The features include composition, editing, linking (like links used on the web today, but possibly more sophisticated) and collaborative work being done on two computers at the same time.

It would be an impressive system today. Back in 1968 it was mind blowing.

But he wasn't the only one working on hypertext at the time—there was Ted Nelson and his work on Xanadu (which has yet to be finished today).

Cute cheerleaders

Keith, a friend of mine from FAU had some extra tickets to the FAU Owls game at Pro Player Stadium down in South Florida (about half way between Miami and Ft. Lauderdale). I knew Spring wanted to go so I passed the invite on to her. Keith managed to produce two extra tickets and Spring convinced me (“Please? Please? Pretty please?”) to come along as well.

Keith showed up around 3:00 pm in the family conversion van with his brother T, coworker MM and MM's significant other CM. We piled into the van, and took the Florida Turnpike Ronald Regan Turnpike down to Pro Player Stadium. Parking was easy as it wasn't a large crowd. Upon emerging into the stadium proper, I saw that it was SPC vs. FAU.

“Wow!” I said. “I didn't know I was playing against the Owls.” SPC being my initials and all.

“Um, they're playing St. Peter's College,” said Keith. and we found our seats (7th row, just off the 50 yard line) fairly easy. Then Keith, CM and I headed off to find food.

Expensive food at that. The two cheese burgers and Cokes I got for Spring and I cost close to $20 (ouch) but since they have a captive audience I suppose they can get away with such hurtful prices. As the mighty hunters returned with food, the game started.

I will admit that I spent a fair amount of time viewing the cheerleading squads (FAU had three squads out on the field, St. Peter's none) and not really paying attention to the game. That's okay, since Spring was viewing the cheerleading squads as well. The FAU Owls' mascot handler was also cute (she was helping him navigate the stands to prevent him from tripping).

By halftime, the score was 19 to 0, and not in FAU's favor. To start the Half Time show, a few Hooters girls came out, slowly followed by the Hooters Owl waddling (and waddling he did—the costume crotch was only a foot or two off the ground) out. Two lucky contestants had to race up and walk around a baseball bat five times, then toss two hula-hula hoops over the Hooters' Owl; the owl had a preferred preference towards the girl contestant, but in the end, the guy won.

Then, to the music of Orff's Carmina Burana the Hip Hop Kidz took center field for the rest of the show. Spring picked out the littleist kid out there had a cast on her right arm, yet she seemed to still be enjoying herself.

Second half—more cheerleading watching. About the only real excitement of the whole game came when St. Peter's was 2nd down at the 1 yard line—FAU managed to keep them there and prevent a score by St. Peter. Unfortunately, the FAU drive from their own 1 yard line did not lead to a touch down, although the FAU defense kept St. Peter's from scoring at all during the second quarter.

But the FAU offense couldn't score to save their life. So the final score ended up being 19-0.

Monday, October 29, 2001

Andytown, Florida


Population: 500

GATEWAY to the West! Next stop, 87 miles.

Please don't feed the aligators. Thank you.

Non-existant sign for a non-existant city at the intersection of US-27 and Aligator Alley (now I-75) linking South Florida to Naples on the west coast of Florida.

In 1980 I received a free road atlas from the AAA as a promotion. I was 11 at the time, and right at the corner of Aligator Alley and US 27 was a small town with the amusing name of Andytown. I always wanted to visit the place as a kid, it being so close and all, but never did get a chance to. By the time I got a car in 1989 it was apparent that such a town never did exist, since in the 10 years I had been living in South Florida I had never heard mention of this town, but by then, I had heard that map makers usually add non-existant objects to maps in order to “copy protect” their maps.

A few days ago I told Spring this, and she found it amusing. I figured that since I have nothing else to write about, I might as well write about the copy protection mark that is Andytown, Florida.

As I was making the entry, I thought it might be fun to do a Google search for Andytown. I'm not sure what exactly I was expecting, but I wasn't expecting the town to actually exist! There are a lot of map sites offering to sell maps of Andytown and my thought was Boy, Rand McNally is going to great lengths to promote a town that doesn't exist. Spring thought that many people had the same map and thought that the town actually existed. Most of the information I had pointed to 26°07′30″ N, 80°22′30″ W. Very odd.

Looking further, I found out that Andytown existed after all but was demolished in 1979 to make way for the expansion of Alligator Alley, which may explain why I never heard of it (as I moved to South Florida in 1979).

“Amazon registered for first … ”

While doing some research on Andytown I mistyped the URL for Google and instead of hitting a period between the “www” and “google,” I hit the dash and ended up at some domain squatter's site.

And no, it's not great.

Tuesday, October 30, 2001

“He can sprew forth error messages at a furious rate!” has stepped up to the plate to not only inform people of their Errors in a clear precise fashion but to prevent other less scrupulous Internet Entrepreneurs from using the errors to expose Internet users instantaneously to material that is intended for adult audiences. This is not a form of censorship, ErrorMan Inc. holds the highest regard for the Constitutional rights granted every citizen of the United States.

Spring found him, hiding behind and boy, is the world a better place for it (that was sarcasm in case you didn't notice).

Besides the obvious notion that the world is nothing more than the 51st State, ErrorMan looks like a B-stringer for some small press super hero comic book lineup. Not only that, but that blue dot makes him look a big pugish, and the outfit isn't quite skin tight like all good superhero outfits are supposed to be.

I wonder how long it will be before ErrorMan is shilling Hostess Fruit Pies to an unsuspecting teenage population? And will they stop the Dreaded 404Man? Or how about the ever evil General ProtectionFault? Or that nasty of villains, Core Dump? Maybe tossing a few fruit pies would stop PC Load Letter, but since no body really understands her, maybe they won't stop her. Who's to know?

More to the point, who cares?

Missed it by that much …

I'm at the gas station, filling up the car. I'm aiming for $10 and I'm watching the digits count up. $7.00 … $8.00 … $9.00 … one, two, three, four, five, I'm pacing it, six, seven, I can feel it, eight, nine STOP!

$9.99 on the pump.

Darn. I squeeze the handle …

$10.01 on the pump.


More of Lost Florida

Yet more mapesque entries. A few weeks ago Spring and I were driving around. Okay, I was driving, Spring was passengering. She was also looking at a map of Florida I had in the car, concentrating on the section for South Florida (which consists of Miami, Ft. Lauderdale and aaaaaallll the Palm Beaches, to mimic nearly all the radion and television stations down here) and right there, in Pompano Beach, is Storyland.

“Storyland?” I asked. I've lived down here for 22 years now, and I've never heard of the place.

“Storyland,” she said, pointing to the map. “See?” She held the map to where I could see it. At the next red light, I took a look.

“Yup. Storyland.”

So it's been in the back of our minds for some time now. I quickly checked the map in question just now to remember the name (“Toy—something or other?” “Um, … Storyplace?”) and one quick Google search later, and yes, it did exist. Neat!

Collection of Disinfected Mail

When I first saw the link for the World's Largest Collection of Disinfected Mail, I first thought it had something to do with the current Anthrax-laced mail floating around the States, but no:

Fear of the mail is nothing new, as the Pearson Museum's disinfected mail exhibit illustrates. The museum contains the world's largest collection of disinfected mail, accumulated by the late Emmet F. Pearson. Barbara Mason, curator of the museum, filled us in on failed attempts through history to sterilize filthy missives from infectious letter writers. We were more attentive to her leeches, bloodletting display and the mercury-preserved human hand at the time. But given the current public curiosity about separating junk mail from Jihad germs, we returned to our notes.

Emmet F. Pearson Collection of Disinfected Mail

Now, how did I come across this facinating piece of history? Well, the site I linked to in my last entry is a list of Florida's Lost Tourist Attractions. Which lead to Xanadu: Home of the Future and a quick Google search took me to The Last Xanadu at Roadside America where I found the afore mentioned link to disinfecting mail.

Forget Disney, these lost treasures of an America gone by are way cooler. And a reminder that there still is nothing new under the sun. Even disinfecting mail.

He's home, but it's a zillion light years from here …

That's the real truth. It's like the songs have been written already in their entirety before you were even born and they just fall into your lap. I feel guilty having to put my name on the songs sometimes because I write them, compose them, score them and it's all really the work of God.


Does that mean God is Bad? Is Michael Jackson so far out of touch with reality that reality simply doesn't exist for him anymore? Or is it that reality will have nothing to do with the Gloved One?

Normally, I don't even come close to sites like this, but Jacko is soooo out there K-Pax would probably consider him out there.

“Mentally, I'm always in Never-Neverland—Hee-hee!” Yea, right.

Wednesday, October 31, 2001

The Halloween Tree

There must have been a thousand pumpkins on this tree, hung high and on every branch. A thousand smiles. A thousand grimaces. And twice-times-a-thousand glares and winks and blinks and leerings of fresh-cut eyes.

And as the boys watched, a new thing happened.

The pumpkins began to come alive.

One by one, starting at the bottom of the Tree and the nearest pumpkins, candles took fire within the raw interiors. This one and then that and this and then still another, and on up and around, three pumpkins here, seven pumpkins still higher, a dozen clustered beyond, a hundred, five hundred, a thousand pumpkins lit their candles, which is to say brightened up their faces, showed fire in their square or round or curiously slanted eyes. Flame guttered in their toothed mouths. Sparks leaped out their ripe-cut ears.


Sly does it. Tiptoe catspaws. Slide and creep.

But why? What for? How? Who? When! Where did it all begin?

“You don't know, do you?” asks Carapace Clavicle Moundshroud climbing out of the pile of leaves under the Halloween Tree. “You don't really know!”

“Well,” answers Tom the Skeleton, “er—no.”

Was it—

In Egypt four thousand years ago, on the anniversary of the big death of the sun?

Or a million years before that, by the night fires of the cavemen?

Or in Druid Britain at the Ssssswooommmm of Samhain's scythe?

Or among the witches, all across Europe—multitudes of hags, crones, magicians, demons, devils?

Or high above Paris, where strange creatures froze to stone and lit the gargoyles of Notre Dame?

Or in Mexico, in cemeteries full of candlelight and tiny candy people on El Dia de los Muertos—the Day of the Dead?

Or where?

The Halloween Tree by Ray Bradbury

He's not even home anymore …

Not even 24 hours have gone by, the the link to Michael Jackson I gave earlier is no more.


So I've gone back and fixed the link. Savages.

Notes from Errands run during Halloween

So Spring and I were running around doing some last minute Halloween shopping, preparing for a gathering of friends later in the evening.

After lunch, we stopped off at Blockbuster to rent the movie for our Halloween party where we planned to MST3K a carefully choosen film—in this case, Hardware (in the imortal words of my friend Bill when we saw this in the theater when it came out—“This was so bad it was well worth the six bucks!”).

But Blockbuster was rather Lackluster in their selection of videos (they didn't even have a Science Fiction section!) we decided to try another store—Hollywood Video. A bigger selection, more sections (including a Science Fiction section) and cheaper prices. Since we weren't members, I started filling out the membership form while Spring went shopping for videos.

Why a video store needs my Social Security number I don't know (neither did I give it to them, nor did they seem to make a fuss over my non-compliance) nor why it requires me to give my zip code twice or phone number twice who knows? It was a rather silly form. When I added Spring to my account, I allowed her to rent NR (not rated), R, PG-13 and PG films, but not G. Can't have her renting G films (“I'm sorry Ms. Dew, but we can't let you rent that copy of `Marry Poppins.' You're not allowed to!”).

Video in hand, we were off. “Hey, Spring. See that car in front of us?”

“Yes, it's kind of hard to miss.”

I do love her so. “See those Chinese characters on the bumper?”


“I hope he didn't pay a lot for those—they're upside down!” One of the benefits of taking Chinese calligraphy in college—I can pick these things out, even if I can't read the actual characters.

Our next stop was Wal★Mart but to our surprise, the store down the street from us was no longer there! Abandoned! Gone! We drove around the parking lot wondering what to do when we asked a few ped-xings what happened.

“Oh, they moved across the street! Next to the Lowe's.”

“Thanks,” Spring said, and we drove off.

To the largest Wal★Mart store I've ever seen. It's one of those Wal★Mart Superstores that are the size of small Latin American countries. Walking in I felt I had reached Conspicuous Consumer Consumption Mecca. Isles and isles of merchandizing. Satelite stores lining the edge. Thousands of people dashing about buying last minute Halloween supplies. We didn't feel like spending the next few hours trying to track down the few items we needed, so we left.

Next was the supermarket to pick up some food and lovely beverages. Home. Then back to the supermarket to pick up some lovely alcoholic beverages (“I knew we were missing something when we left,” said Spring).

Then relax a bit before the evening plans start.

The Pervert, The Artist and the Psychotic Operatic Killer Cyborg

Ahh Hardware. In the imortal words of my friend Bill: “It was so bad it was well worth the six bucks.” Yes, we saw it in the theater when it came out in 1990. And yes, it is that bad. Very bad.

Overall, the movie doesn't know what it wants to be—it starts out post Apocalyptic (which seems to be popular with Australian directors) then shifts towards a Cyberpunk sensibility complete with techno worship and corporate conspiracies, then goes operatic with a Luciano Parvoratti singing killer Cyborg straight from The Terminator (only with six limbs and fangs—I kid you not) and finally shifts back to post Apocalyptic at the very end.

The basic plot (as much as there is one) is Moe (Dylan McDermott) buys a bag of robot parts from a nomad and gives them to his girlfriend artist Jill. Only it turns out that the robot in question is a Mark 13, a killer cyborg made for the government for wanton killing (the populous, as it turns out in a very subtle sub-plot) and is capable of self-regeneration. So of course she uses the parts in a sculpture and one night, it regenerates itself and goes on a rampage, attempting to kill all in sight.

I never did figure out what role, exactly, Lincoln Wineberg, Jr. (the pervert) plays. He spies on Jill, tries desperately to hit on her, then becomes victim number one to the robot (“Here, let me open these blinds.” “Blinds? I didn't shut the blinds!” “There we go—ack!”). And just when you think it's over—it lives! It terrorizes some more. It sings tenor! It induces epileptic seisures in all who look at it.

Over all, just a real bad film.

Well worth the three bucks for renting it.

Friday, November 02, 2001

I blew it.

Well, I blew it. I overreacted and because of that, I lost a year uptime on tower, the colocated server serving up this website (as well as several other websites, and email).

What I thought might be the machine going a bit marginal on me turned out instead to be a rather show-stopping bug (cough cough) in the software that drives this online journal. The ANSI-C spec for time is a bit more weasly than I thought.

The problem is that I thought (erroniously as it turns out) that mktime() would renormalize (say, if the day was set to 32, the month would be incremented and the day set to 1) the time given. An implementation could do that, but it isn't mandated.

And I was counting on that.

I'm not sure why I didn't notice the problem before, but with Mark's level headed guidance (should have called him before I rebooted the server) I was able to track down a problem I should have.


Move over BOFH, here comes Gord …

So a kid, around 19, signs up a new account. He decides to rent Sled Storm, and then never comes back. Well, ok. Gord left a couple messages to return the game, but no luck.

Eventually the young adult phones and says he returned it. Uh-huh … That's right.

So Gord forwards the account to collections.

One day a few months later this lady walks in and starts yelling about how Gord sent her son to collections and ruined his credit rating so now he can't buy a car or stereo or something.

Gord points out the obvious point that he stole a game and is a poor credit risk.

Then the mother throws the game on the counter and says that the game is now back and I have to fix his credit.

“Ma'am, first off, the game is destroyed. Look at it. Second, I've replaced the game already so I don't want it back. Instead, I seek the money for my cost on replacing it and the late fees he owed. Third, your son claimed he returned it.”

This just sets her off. Something about how it's not her son's fault that he stole the game.

“How is it not his fault?”

“Because I brought it back.”

“That excuses the original theft and lying to me?”

“It's not his fault he lied and tried to steal it!”

“Might I ask whose fault it is then?”

Anyway, she starts yelling some more about how her son is never going to rent from Gord ever again. Gord points out that was exactly his point and that he had already closed the account when it was sent to collections. So she stormed out.

The Gord often wonders why people threaten to never come back after they've been told never to return.

The Acts of Gord, The Book of Annoyances, Chapter 3: With Parents Like This …

We're up early, and Spring seems facinated with watching Anne of Green Gables (if only Anne would just shut up!) so I'm surfing the web and I come across The Acts of Gord who seems to run a gaming store up in Canada and has chronicled all the stupid people who have come through his store.

I am glad I don't work in retail.

Guess who's coming to dinner?

I've lived down here for over twenty years and I still don't remember when the end of hurricane season is—the beginning of November or the end of November? Well, it seems that it's the end of November because we have one that just formed in the Gulf of Mexico—Michelle.

While it's still too early to know if it will actually hit us here in South Florida (and so far the probabilities are low), we are expected to get a lot of rain over the next week or so.

I'll keep you posted.

Saturday, November 03, 2001


I wake up a bit late today, and I'm immediately in frantic mode, trying to get ready for the weekly Sunday game with my friends. It then occures to me as I'm nearly ready that wait a second … wasn't yesturday Friday?

It was. Today is Saturday.

I'm not as late as I thought I was.

Smart Pet Tricks

“Sean, come here,” said Spring from the kitchen. Upon entering the kitchen, Spring was pointing to a blue plastic bowl sitting on the handle of a pot, propped up by a plastic container. “Look what Spodie did!” Spodie being the cat here at Condo Conner.

Spodie won't drink out of a water bowl; he only drinks out of containers that he's normally not allowed to drink out of. So we leave a bowl of water in the sink for him. Our logic—that he thinks he's drinking out of something he's not supposed to (but lately he's been drinking out of the shower stall so go figure). As to the plastic bowl we leave for him in the sink? He'll empty the water out and place it somewhere in the kitchen.

His skills, they are improving. Maybe one day he'll be able to cook for us.

Sunday, November 04, 2001

Werewolves of Coconut Creek, Hellmouth in Margate



“Sean? This is Mark. You gotta check out the moon.”


“The moon.”

“Why?” Oh no, I thought. It's turned blood red. The Apocalypse is neigh upon us! It's hard to shake that Baptist upbringing.

“There's this incredible halo around the moon! You have to see it! I've never seen anything like it!”

“Cool! Call you back in a few.” I hung up; Spring and I headed outside and we looked up. The sky is clear except for a very light haze which was causing the halo effect.

“It's beautiful,” said Spring, lying down on the grass.

“It looks like a Q” I said, pointing to a small cloud just hanging off the halo.

Spring giggled, and we continued to stare at the sky—Spring lying on the grass and me still standing.

“Does it look lopsided to you?” I asked.

“What, the moon?”

“No, the halo.”

“No. I think that's because you're having to look up. Why don't you try lying down?”

I lay down on the grass. “Great,” I said. “Now I have pesticides all over my back.”

“Then you don't have to worry about bed bugs, do you?” said Spring. We continued to look at the moon and halo. Some wispy clouds passed in front of the moon. “That is so beautiful,” said Spring.

“Oh nice. Now the werewolfs are going to come out and attack us,” I said.


“Werewolfs. Whenever a werewolf attack is imminent in a film, they always cut to a shot if thin wispy clouds flying by the moon.”

“But dear,” said Spring. “We're in Coconut Creek.”

“I did mention the Hellmouth in Margate.”

“Ah yes, you did.”

“You're not worried?”


I love Spring.

Hellmouth in Margate

That bit about the Hellmouth in Margate is true. Well, nearly true. It's not actually in Margate, but North Lauderdale. But “Hellmouth in North Lauderdale” doesn't quite have the same ring as “Hellmouth in Margate” does.

And it's close enough anyway.

But other than the location, it's true. Or, at least a few friends think so. The story, as it was handed down to me, goes something like this:

Many years ago (being the late 80s and thus still under Reganomics) my friends JT and L received a frantic visit by a mutual friend JS. It seems that JS and his girlfriend had sensed a disturbance in the psychic fabric of the universe and realized that a portal to Hell, a Hellmouth (a term popularized by the TV show Buffy the Vampire Slayer) if you will, had opened up in a park in North Lauderdale and they were the ones that needed to close it, as JS channels an elf (or was an elf in a past life, I don't exactly recall) and all that but they need help in preventing The Ceremony from being interrupted. Thus they need the help of JT and L.

JT and L relunctantly go to the park in order to help JS and girlfriend to close this portal to Hell before something horrible happens. JT and L have to tie JS and girlfriend up near a certain tree and under no circumstances are they to be untied, no matter what they say. Once suitibly tied, JS and girlfriend start chanting their way into a trance. JT and L wander around the park, keeping an eye out for anything suspicious.

Now, here's where the story gets wierd. (Starts? As if it wasn't wierd already?) Apparently, JS is possessed and starts making threats, head turning, spewing forth split pea soup, the whole Exorcist thing. JT and L, true to their word, do not untie JS and girlfriend and remain on patrol.

Then JT, swearing on his life and backed up by L, say that they saw a shadowy figure wandering around the trees, but upon a closer look no one was there! There was no way a person could have disappeared since the tree cover wasn't that great (it's South Florida—have you seen how much shade a palm tree provides? It ain't much) and it was near the center of the park; they would have noticed anyone trying to leave the park.

And what they saw was a humanoid shape. Not quite a man, not quite an animal. Some black, shadowy humanoid shape wandering around the trees while JS and girlfriend were spewing forth threats and obscenities and split pea soup.

After some twenty minutes or so, JS and girlfriend go limp, then seem to snap out of it. They report that the portal to Hell, the Hellmouth as it were, was successfully closed and now North Lauderdale is safe from demonic possession.

Yes, I have some interesting friends.

Monday, November 05, 2001


It was one year ago today that Spring and I realized we both had mutual crushes and decided to become an item.

Of course, it happened over email since she was in New Jersey and I was here in Lower Sheol (aka South Florida). We were on the same mailing list (DaveWorld, a mailing list where there are no Dave's. You just wouldn't get it) for several years and knew each other through it. We had exchanged private emails a few times but nothing real significant. Then one year ago it happened.

I was at work at The Company, with this massive headache, feeling exceedingly tired but yet so wired with a sugar and caffiene high that I was buzzing (“Sean, do you hear that wierd buzzing noise?” “Oooohhhh ddddoooonnnn'tttt mmmmiiiinnnndddd tttthhhhaaaatttt,,,, iiiitttt'ssss jjjjuuuusssstttt mmmmeeee … … … …”). Spring sent an email, I replied with an uncharacteristic frankness that is generally reserved with inebriation and five hours later (all through email—a kind of slow-man's Instant Messenger if you will) we were an item.

Okay, an item spread out over 1,200 miles of U. S. shoreline, but still, an item. We didn't physically meet until January of this year (and if you check, you'll see that's there this gap in January—that was me in New Jersey). Then shen came down here for Easter, and then once more in July, and has been here ever since.

There was a hurricane?

Danger past. God forgotten.

—Old Indian (sub-continent) proverb.

It seems that Hurricane Michelle blew past us. Some high winds, some rain, nothing much else. Heck, the power didn't even flicker and we were able to keep the computers up and running here at Condo Conner.

To answer questions that are key

Spring and I received word to day that yes indeed, a friend of ours did commit suicide. Letting it sink in, thoughts kept crossing my mind. Did we tease him too much on the car thang? Did any of us think to tell him that mixing drugs and alcohol is probably a Bad Idea? Where there any signs that he might be suicidal?

Too many questions. No answers.

Tuesday, November 06, 2001

Oriental Market

So I find myself in an Oriental food store with Spring. Soy bean snacks. Chocolate covered cracker sticks. Dried seaweed. Squid. Tea. Lots of tea but still no Black Currant. Supposedly sweet snacks made of rice. Or soy. Or octopus. Incense by the gross. Chop sticks. Tea pots. Pickled bamboo shoots. Pickled pepper. Pickled pickles. And even more odd food stuffs that my thoroughly Americanized palette refuses to believe is even edible, much less good as Spring insists.

But the soap smells nice. Mmmmmmmmmmmmm … sandalwood.

Slug buggy yellow …

While I've never really played before, Spring is a connoisseur of Punch Buggy. So since she's moved down here, I've had to come up to speed on the game.

So we're sitting in the Computer Room working away when “Punch Buggy blue and blue,” said Spring, lightly tapping me on the shoulder.

“What?” I turn around and she points to a picture on the screen—in a traffic snarl deep in some city are two VW Beetles.

“And it doesn't count on a car lot,” she said as I scrambled for a web browser.

“I'm not heading there,” I said, doing an image search on Google. “Slug buggy yellow, slug buggy blue, red, green, blue, um … yellow, blue, black—”

“Are you done yet?” said Spring.

“Wait a second … just a few more pages … ”

Wednesday, November 07, 2001

A Walk in the Park

It was such a beautiful day today that Spring and I walked over to a nearby park to have a look around. Veteran's Park, oddly enough dedicated to U.S. Veterans of all wars, is at the west end of a shopping center about a block west of us. Neatly mowed grass and a few token trees surround seven flag poles, one with the U.S. flag and the remaining six for the various armed forces. There are also a few benches there to relax on.

Given that there were no signs saying DO NOT WALK ON THE GRASS we did just that. And also given that there were no signs saying DO NOT CLIMB ON THE TREES Spring did just that. She climbed one of the banyan trees along the edge of the park. They're easy trees to climb, given their sprawling nature and dozens of small trunks they throw down as they grow (I've heard a story of one such banyan tree covering nine acres). I decided to remain safely on the ground least I have an attack of vertigo.

Walking back, we passed a playground where the kids (all kindergarten age) started asking Spring questions about her hair. I attempted to take a picture, but Spring stopped me.

“Don't you know it's not safe to take their picture?” she asked.

“What? It's not like I'm stealing their soul or anything,” I said.

“It's not that—it's just that parents get very upset if you take pictures of their kids. You could be arrested.”

“For taking a picture of some kids?”

“Yes. Parents get very defensive about their kids.” I rolled my eyes as we kept walking.

We walked behind the the shopping center where we saw some very oddly marked parking spots. One was marked “SEMOSUMMER RESRYEO” and another one was similarly marked (although I don't recall exactly what it said as the picture turned out fuzzy.

We also stopped by to check the mail box and ran into our roommate Rob who was leaving for fighter training (in swords). We ended up checking the mail right there in the middle of the parking lot.

“Let's do Fawn!”

To celebrate our anniversary Spring and I headed over to the Melting Pot for dinner. It's a nice cozy restaurant and since Spring had never had fondue (“You've never had fondue?” “No dear, I haven't.”) I figured it was the place to go for a special dinner.

But as I remarked to Spring while we were there dipping various food items into cheese or hot oil (depending upon the course we were on), you would think the prices wouldn't be so high, seeing how the customer does all the cooking. And Spring remarked that their insurance rates must be insane seeing how there is hot oil on every table and if the customer doesn't cook the food long enough they stand a chance of food poisoning.

But overall we both very much enjoyed the meal.

Thursday, November 08, 2001

Funeral rites

Spring,  Kelly,  Mark,  JeffK, ChrisS, J (a friend of Mark's) and I went to the funeral of our friend A who died this week.

The service was held at a small church almost an hour away and we arrived just in time. There was a sizable crowd of maybe 75 people for the hour long memorial to A. Afterwards, we were invited to a reception at a family member's house a few miles away from the church.

There we hung around for an hour or so, talking with family and friends about the fond memories we had of A and his love of computers, cars (especially BMWs and his unfortunately tendancy to crash them) and electronics and how sad it was that he ended his life so early. We're all going to miss A—it'll be too quiet without him.

Friday, November 09, 2001

This is what happens when you let lawyers loose

  1. License., Inc., (“”) hereby grants to you, and you hereby accept, a non-exclusive, non-transferable license to display a Link (as defined below) to the home page of on the World Wide Web site(s) owned or operated by you and identified above (the “Linking Site(s)”). Such Link shall consist solely of the AutoZone logo (the “Logo”) as specified by from time to time. You may not modify, edit or in any way alter the Logo in any manner. Nothing in this Agreement shall grant you any rights in the Logo, the site or any other intellectual property of AutoZone or any of its subsidiaries or affiliates, other than as expressly set forth herein. For purposes of this Agreement “Link” shall mean a hypertext link located on the Linking Site(s) which shall only link directly to the home page of located at (as such URL may be modified from time to time), and which shall be implemented by the Linking Party solely in accordance with this Agreement.

Via my dog wants to be on the radio, AUTOZONE.COM LINKING AGREEMENT

And that's item number one of a four page document! I also like item five, which forbids me from using the data in my own log file if I can determine if a user clicked on a link pointing to This is such silliness. Me, print, sign and fax back a document just to link to their site?

I can see their concern over using their logo, heck, Slashdot had problems with using the IBM logo (but they were resolved fortunately). But linking? Linking?

Who let the lawyers out?

Saturday, November 10, 2001

The Quick and Dirty B-Movie Plot Generator

My friend JeffC sent me a link to They Fight Crime, a CGI script that prints out a plot.

I checked the page, and it's all in JavaScript. Pretty easy. It looks easy. So I take the text (it's there for the taking) and write my own version (in C of course) that can be easily extended (all the text are in files) and I've even included character names. Mine also has more options than just fighting crime.

I do need to fix the pronouns in a few cases but I'll save that for later.

Update on Friday, July 6th, 2007

Oh, it only took a few years to fix the problem.

A google spiders

In checking the log files for this site I've notived that Google has finally found it and has spent the past few days spidering through it.

There are a few thousand links for it to follow (out of what? A million potential URLs on this site? I know the Electric King James has over fifteen million URLs). For instance, there are three just for the years, 12 each for each year (okay, so there's only 11 for this year, but close enough) so that's now 39 URLs. Each day (for those days that have an entry) have at least one entry and while I may have skipped a day or two here and there, let's say there's an averave of 300 per year, so that's over 900 there. And if you assume an average of two entries per day (remember, you can retrieve the entire day, or just an entry) that's another 600 per year or 1,800 so we're now up to nearly 3,000 URLs that Google has to crawl through (with lots of duplication).

robots.txt for

# Go away---we don't want you 
# to endlessly spider this
# site.

User-agent: *
Disallow: /

There's a reason I don't allow web robots/spiders to the Electric King James—it would take way too long to index the site (if indeed, the spider in question was even aware of all the possible URLs) and my machine isn't all that powerful to begin with (it being a 33MHz 486 and all). But I feel that there is a research problem lurking here that some interprising Masters or Ph.D. candidate could tackle: how best to spider a site that allows multiple views per document.

Sunday, November 11, 2001

Return to Post Apocalyptic Boca Raton

We finally returned to Post Apocalyptic Boca Raton or, as Spring calls it, Poca Boca. The day was beautiful, and we had the time. So like Douglas MacAuthor, we returned. Only it wasn't to the Philipines and it wasn't during a World War but I digress.

Poca Boca isn't all that big an area, being nestled just south of Spanish River Blvd and just east of FAU. We drove and parked the car along the abandoned road and strolled through the area for several hours.

The vegetation has gone wild and in one section (around 39th St. and an abandonded section of 5th Ave) the growth has almost overgrown the entire street. Along 39th are the foundations for the model homes that were built in the late 60s and we were amused to find a couch still there in what may have been the living room.

As we were walking around Spring and I talked about various locations that a person could potentially squat and remain unseen from homes and streets along the edge of Poca Boca.

Florida Swampland

After visiting Poca Boca Spring and I headed off to the ends of South Florida—Loxahatchee. The Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge on the western fringe of South Florida. We drove out there the day before but just after the sun had set and therefore we only stayed a few minutes before we were eaten alive by mosquitos.

Going in the day, we avoided all that and were able to stroll around the area a bit. Quite a few people were out, getting airboat tours (those things are loud) and fishing. We walked along the hiking path (that goes on and on and on and on) for a bit, then headed home where we both took a nap.

Monday, November 12, 2001

Demilitarized zone

The past few days I've been reconfiguring my firewall/proxy server here at home and I must certainly say that it's not quite as easy as I thought it was; and that supporting FTP is singularly annoying.

Prior to my mucking about I had allowed all TCP connections through, and then excluded the ones I didn't want, which meant that my rules (and I'm using ipfwadm here) looked like:

ipfwadm -I -a reject -P tcp -W eth1 -D $IP 1:19
ipfwadm -I -a reject -P tcp -W eth1 -D $IP 23:24
ipfwadm -I -a reject -P tcp -W eth1 -D $IP 26:79

And so on. Made it hard to see what ports I did support (and I stopped at 1022 because it seems that Linux 2.0 starts handing out ports at 1023 even though it's supposed to start at 1024 but that's anothe story) and I had to make sure I blocked services on high ports like Squid and I wanted to block ports that stuff like Back Oriface use (not that I'm really worried it'll attack me, but it's always nice to see attempts).

So I started mucking around.

And I'm still fine tuning everything. As Rob pointed out, I'm turning into a paranoid sysadmin.


But it is easier to see what I'm letting through.

Tuesday, November 13, 2001

Feature or marketing?

I've been busy the past two days with some programming—for myself as well as a client, although I should probably spend more time on the client's code than my own but alas …

I spent some time yesturday trying to implement Markov Chains that wasn't successful. I know I've done this before (in Pascal of all things) years ago but I think I need to rethink how I was doing this.

Afterwards I worked on my client's project. It's not hard per se but it involves keeping track of lots of little details and much of the data I have to track can change at unpredictable times (old sources of data may go, new sources may appear) so I'm having to track that as well. Again not hard, just a bit of tedium to make sure I track everything correctly.

For today's warm-up exercise, I added functionality to mod_blog that will send notification to when an entry is made. It's toggable so you can have it send notification or not. That was not hard at all since I'm using the form based API and not the XML-RPC or SOAP ones (which wouldn't be that hard to hack support for either). Why am I doing this? Would you believe “creeping featureism?”

I didn't think so.

It's marketing. Pure and simple.

Marketing marketing marketing

Well, no sooner do I get the RSS worked out (the other day) and I have the Samurai Admin pulling it in.

That, and the updates to works flawlessly (yea!).

And as always, the code is available (although I should probably make it more apparent that it is).

IE is starndards conforming my a…

I know that Microsoft IE can display XML files so I'm checking out the RSS file using it and I get:

The XML page cannot be displayed

Cannot view XML input using style sheet. Please correct the error
and then click the Refresh button, or try again later.

System does not support the specified encoding. Line 1, Position 43

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="US-ASCII" ?>

In light of the recent events surrounding MSN blocking non-conforming browsers I find this very funny. Very. I guess US-ASCII is simply too hard for them to support.

Wednesday, November 14, 2001

Okay, so it was a slip of the fingers …

Okay, I think I squashed that bug.

If you've been browsing this blog between 11:00 pm yesturday to around 1:30 am today (Eastern time that is) then you probably noticed a bunch of duplicate entries. This was caused by a bug in the new feature I added today (okay, technically yesturday).

What happened is that the program would add the entry, and notify and it was in the cleanup code of that feature (after it had already sent the notification to that it would crash. This caused the mail server (since I use email to update this journal) to think the message had not been delivered and therefore queue it up for delivery later.

And basically, every entry made since this new feature was in was still in the queue trying to be delivered successfully.

So much for my programming prowess.

The code (C—I program mostly in C) in question was:

	int UrlFree(URL *);

	/* ... */


	/* ... */

	UrlFree((URL *)url);

UrlFree() takes a pointer to a URL and here I was passing in the URL directly, but because of the cast (since URLHTTP is based off the URL datatype but due to the lack of actual objects in C, I have to cast) the compiler let it slide.

And please, no “Why didn't you use Java?” or “Why not C++?” or even “What? You didn't use Perl?” I freely admit to being a C bigot and I like my language to remain standard, unlike C++ (which until what? Only last year got a standard?) or Java (what classes did Sun change this week?) or even Perl (Perl 6 is just around the corner, and it's nothing at all like Perl 5 … heh heh heh). I have better things to do (like chase bugs it seems) than to run after ever shifting languages.

Besides, is there anyone else that talks about bugs in their software?

Major network suckage today.

Major network suckage today. At around 3:00 am this morning the network at Condo Conner dropped. All attempts to get out didn't get past the DSL unit and a trace from outside (fortunately my roommate works at night as a system administrator) showed that traffic to Condo Conner was not getting past a router in Miami.

Fast foward to noon today. Can't traceroute to my colocated server. Can't ping it. Yet Spring can get her mail. Uh oh. A quick telnet to port 80 and yes, I can bring up a web page.


Poking around I'm seeing major network problems with my provider. Inside, I can ping some sites, other's I can't. Some sites I can traceroute to, others I can't. One moment I can ping but can't telnet. Then I can telnet. From outside again, it's hit or miss if I can ping or traceroute back to Condo Conner.

Most things are working and that's what makes this more annoying that if it was all down. I'll be going along and wham! can't get there.



I heard from Mark that last night around 3:00 am that the DSL provider is upgrading the software on their equipment at the same time that the local phone company (no names but its initials are BellSouth) is upgrading the software on their equipment and well for the past 17 hours the Internet connectivity has gone to Hell.

Nice job, guys. Ever hear of rollbacks?

Okay, okay, cheap shot, but man, we're jonsing for Internet connectivity here. It's been bad all day … can't get to a site … can't get to a site … can't get to a—wait! We got a page! Woo hoo! Click on a link and … can't get to the site.

Trying to log in to a remote server is just as fun. Nope—that box is refusing ssh connections. Still refusing. Is it … yes! It connected! I'm logged in and … the connection is frozen.


Good news though: we have a dial up account (good thing I hadn't gotten around to getting rid of the second phone line). Bad news: the number is busy.

Okay, things could be worse and for that I'm grateful.

Thursday, November 15, 2001

Getting a fix …

The network seems to be working smoothly now; it only took them 21 hours to get it working (either that, or they actually did a rollback and went back to the drawing boards). In any case, things seem to be back to normal.

“No fighting in the war room!”

WASHINGTON - Law enforcement officials were stunned recently after they urged the nation to be on the “highest alert possible”, and they were informed that we already were. Soon after that, Secretary of Defense Don Rumsfeld ordered our nations military to go to “DefCon 1”, the highest defense condition possible, and he too was informed that they already were at “DefCon 1”.

Via my dog wants to be on the radio, Defense Sec Rumsfeld Requests More DefCon Levels

Now that things have returned to normal (network wise), I figured it was time for a bit of levity.

Besides, you can tell that Defense Secretary Rumsfeld isn't a computer guy—1,024 is is much better than 1,027. And I suspect it would have been Ashcroft to ask for more DefCon levels, not Rumsfeld.

Friday, November 16, 2001

“Google owes me how much?”

I came across a micropayment scheme that is making the rounds: Penny per Page and it works just like it sounds—you pay one penny to view one page. Technically, it's possible. HTTP has provisions to expand for pay-for-reference (although no standard is mentioned) and some work has been done.

Obligatory Sidebar Quote

The fact that they don't pay for Web content is a historic anomaly. The benefits to be reaped by paying a very small amount of money for Web content are gigantic. Right now, people are actively denying themselves many of the most amazing things that the Web could provide because of the "totally free" World Wide Web.

How Penny Per Page Might Work page 4

The article even mentions how under this scheme, Google could easily make $350 million a year (assuming Google can maintain it's 100 million page hits per day) but see—there's a slight problem and it's a problem I haven't seen mentioned in any of the micropayment schemes I've read up on: search engines.

Ah yes, the Google Problem (as I've come to call it). The whole point of a search engine is to catalog your site so others can find it. If no one can find your site, it doesn't matter if you charge 1¢ or $1—you're not going to make money. And generally, sites don't mind if a search engine crawls through the site and indexes it. Heck, there are companies that make money submitting sites to search engines so they'll be crawled.

Now, how much of that fabled $350 million that Google makes will stay if Google has to pony up the 1¢ for each page it fetches?

Now, statistically speaking, using only my site and extrapolating from there makes poor science but hey, it's a starting point. A quick scan through the logs (of,, and which so far only covers November 1st through the very early morning hours of the 16th (it's 3:08 am as I'm writing this) I've had 986 visits from Googlebot but only 83 referals from Google itself.

Interesting! Under this hypothetical plan, Google lost $9.03 on spidering my site. If I check all the sites I host, Google lost $15.46 from all the spidering it did. Meanwhile, I made $10.69 from Google spidering just or if I consider all the sites: $22.54.

On a whim, I checked three other sites whose logs files I have access to to see if the rather ad-hoc theory I'm working under is valid. Two sites Google paid more to visit than they made in search results, but definitely came out ahead on the third (of course it's a sex-related site).

So it would be hard to say if Google would be able to keep the $350 million if it too was subject to paying out 1¢ per page it indexed.

The other side of the coin is for the search engines to be exempt from the penny-per-page charge—after all, they're driving visitors to the site after all. But then it becomes a problem of determining if what is going through the pages is a robot or not. If you base the decision on the User-Agent then what's to stop someone using Opera and changing its User-Agent string to say it's Googlebot? Authentication is one method, but it's hard enough getting robots.txt on all sites and that's a simple text file. Something as complicated as an anthentication scheme for robots is going to be tougher to sell.

Less is more

So far, aside from affliate programs for porn sites, the only way to still generate some revenue from a website is advertising.

Most web advertising is annoying and getting more so. But an interesting twist seems promising: less is more. Or rather—small text only based advertisements. Several sites are experimenting with them right now and since they're small, fairly unobtrusive, highly targetted and cheap they might actually become the future of web advertising.

I hope so. I'm getting tired of the crap that's being pushed now.

Saturday, November 17, 2001

No. No. A thousand times, no.

“Look,” said Spring,Spam sushi!” She was pointing to some pictures of Spam sushi on the computer screen.

Now, I like Spam. Don't knock it until you actually try it (and thousands of Hawaians can't be wrong). And yes, I like rice (especially the white rice at the local Spanish/Mexican/Cuban restaurant down the street).

But mixed together as sushi?

“Ah, no,” I said.

“But you like Spam.”


“And you like rice, right?”


“So?” She sat there next to me, giving me this don't tell me you won't like this look.

“Not on your life.”

“Well, why not?”

“Because first you'll start me off with cooked Spam and rice,” I said. “And then, you'll slip in raw Spam and get me used to that. And from there I spiral downward, jonsing for the stuff, spending all my money to feed my habit and then where will we be. Out on the street! That's where!”

“So does that mean you're not buying it?”

“Not buying, not eating, not even considering it.”

The Tiger Woods of Jazz

“You know what the world needs now?” asked Spring.

I paused in what I was working on and turned to her. “Love, true love?”

“Someone to be the Tiger Woods of jazz,” she said.

“Um, Spring. I hate to say this, but most jazz musicians are already black,” I said.

“No no no, not that.”

“Oh, then some uncoordinated white guy wearing polyester playing jazz?”

“No silly,” she said, punching me on the shoulder. “Somebody to take stuffy old tight-ass dusty jazz and make it fun for everybody, the way Tiger Woods did for stuffy old tight-ass dusty golf.”

“Ah.” And I was englightened.

Sunday, November 18, 2001

The Obligatory Harry Potter Posting

It's the movie of the year so of course I'm obliged to write about it. Heck, I've even read the book (in fact, all four and waiting for the next three). No spoilers here (Harry saves the world from Ultimate Evil); just some comments on the film.

Daniel Radcliffe wasn't a horrible Harry. Neither was he a great Harry. He was just there. Rupert Grint (Ron Weasley) and Emma Watson (Hermione Granger and that's “her‧my‧oh‧knee” not “her‧me‧own”) were much better. I'm not sure if it's because of the direction by Chris “Home Alone” Columbus; it's a very difficult role to pull off or he just isn't all that great. I don't know but I felt he was a bit wooden. Everybody else was wonderful (especially Alan Rickman as Severus Snape).

The special effects. Very uneven. They did a wonder job with Hagrid—I'm sure the technology developed for use in The Lord of the Rings was used here to make Robbie Coltrane into a nine foot tall giant (instead of a three foot Hobbit). Very effective. But for me, most of the computer generated effects distracted me. They looked like computer generated effects. The dinosaurs from Jurassic Park were much better done and that was eight years ago! The Quidditch match would have looked great for Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within but here they were out of place.

Overall the movie is worth seeing (I wouldn't mind seeing it again) but they could have done a better job overall.

Monday, November 19, 2001

Isn't this … um … entrapment?

I received the following spam today in email:

Thanks to recent dramatic advances in the laboratorial processes for the extraction of botanical/herbal alkaloids and glycocides, we are now able to offer what has already been the most incredibly potent marijuana/cannabis alternative available on the planet … KATHMANDU TEMPLE KIFF!!! It is NEW, IMPROVED and 20 times more stokin'-tokin' potent in its formulation.

And it goes on for some 180 more lines of this drivel. But I find it rather amusing that marijuana Kathmandu Temple Kiff is now being sold via spam (through what looked to be an open relay through a university in Puerto Rico). Man, this is just incredible? What next, Viagra?

Tuesday, November 20, 2001

Bunch of savages

Mark, Andrew (an old friend who currently lives in Virginia and is down visiting for a few days) and a friend of Andrew came over for dinner and a night of movies (Battlefield Earth as I think only Spring and I were the only ones there who saw the film and it's baaaaaaad).

Anyway, Andrew and friend had met Mark where he works, then Mark drove them down here to Condo Conner, leaving Andrew's car in the parking lot where Mark works in Boca Raton. Upon returning they found Andrew's car broken into and some items (nothing too important or expensive) stolen. It turned out to be more annoying than anything else, as they had to wait for the Boca Raton Police Crime Unit to show up. They eventually did and informed them that the area (in north Boca Raton, along Clint Moore Rd) has had a rash of car thefts—something like 30 in the recent past.

I suppose if you are going to steal items from a car, doing it in commercial parks in Boca Raton (a very rich city) is the way to do it. Nice cars all over the place—kind of the high tech Mecca of South Florida if you will.

But Mark did state that the female officers that did show up where very cute. I'm going to have to ask my friend M about them—he works in the Boca Raton Police Department. He may know them, or of them.

FBI criminal records

And speaking of M (my friend who works in the Boca Raton Police Department), he sent a link to the FBI Records Search that allows one to check the FBI for any information they may have on you. Scary stuff there.

Wednesday, November 21, 2001

We to name IS Bond. Zhames Bond.

Well, the scams are getting a bit better. I just received this in my email (in my “all spam ends up here” account):

Hello Sir,

This information is top secret and is for your reading only. Please delete this email immediately if you feel this is an error.

My name is Vitaliy Smirnov. I work in Russian Fund of Reconstruction and Development under the Government of Russian Federation as a financial advisor and auditor. During the last two years of my work I've discovered the fact of the money remaining in the Fund left after the Great Default on August, 17th 1998 which you should know or may heard about.

After studying and checking into this I finally got the information that the money can be mapped out by me and then used in some way. The amount is US $1.92 million ($1,920,000). I've found out a problem I can't work this out by myself being an official in Russia. I am not allowed to act as a businessman or have and operate any bank account overseas. That's why I have this proposal for you.

According to all above here is what I suggest. You will help me to accept this money in your country to the firm bank account. After the transaction takes place you hold 20% of the amount and then send out 80% in parts to bank accounts I provide.

This money will be processed as a contract payment to the firm you have or open for it. Firm nature doesn't really matter as I plan to make up a contract of the audit/marketing services or something that your firm did for the Fund. I require the following details about the firm: name, physical address, short working history, managerial stuff, how long it operates in the market and the firm bank account information where this money will be sent. Bank account details are the bank name, bank address, bank contacts and the account numbers.

Sooner you confirm you've read and understood what I sent you we'll start our preparations for the main transaction immediately.

Please treat this information as confident and secret as possible.

Contact me via email if you are ready.

Looking forward to hear from you,


At least they're not asking for money up front this time. A quick Google search revealed that Vitaliy Smirnov is the Russian Olympic Committee President (so yes, that would make him a official in Russia, but I doubt he would have any financial problems that he would ask me for help. Also, this really can't be all that top secret if I found it on web site (okay, so the site in question is in Russian, which looks very cool if you have the proper font. I ran it through The Fish for a translation. Got enough of it so that it does look like a scam, but The Fish also attempted to translate the English that was on the page to Russian—which explains where I got the title from).

And the Crimes of Persuasion website is always a handy reference.

Saturday, November 24, 2001

Ιτ ισ Γρεεκ το με

Recently I witnessed a shocking demonstration by a new, English-speaking, college graduate. I donXt normally talk about my writing with colleagues at work X there isnXt time X but one intelligent youngster asked me a question that I could most easily answer by showing him one of my essays. He could not read it. I mean, he could sound out the words that he knew, skipping the words he didn't know, but he could not make sense of the sentences. After watching his ordeal for five painful minutes, I verbally gave him the message encoded in the English language that he could not read. He believes that he is educated, by the way, because he has a college degree.

Via Jerry Pournelle, Literacy

All a college degree shows is that you are trainable to jump through hoops (okay, with Yale you learn to jump through flaming hoops that impress everyone, but you are still jumping through hoops and aren't necessarily edumakated). And yes, the educational system here is bad.

For some reason, the fact that sheep are easily lead and wolves are not keeps floating through my mind …

“We're the Phone Company … we don't have to care!”

The new second line they gave us had a Valencia area code, which would have been good if IXd needed to call Magic Mountain several times per day. As it was, that number somehow cross-linked with our old phone line so that we couldn't even call our next-door neighbor on either phone without dialing 11 digits. The DSL started crashing all the time. The voice mail either wouldn't work or would deliver messages days after the fact. Sometimes an obliterating static would wash over the line; other times voices would echo.

Well, we werenXt going to take this one lying down! We called the Sprint Ion service center in Atlanta, Georgia, and talked with Artie. And with Margie, Mark, Barry, Bob, Eddie, Kiewan, Abid, Emily, Carlos, Robert, Brian, Isaiah, Corey, Carl, Gerald, Debra, Barbara, Sylvester, Tom, Jeanette, Michael, Randall, Dan, Adam, Allen, Shavonne, Lynette, Hawk, Cornell, John and others.

Via Jerry Pournelle, Lost in OC: Days of Our Lives

Except for the NorthPoint failure and that day a week and a half ago, I haven't had much problem at all with my DSL connection, unlike Mr. Washburn up there. But his story wasn't nearly as bad as Brad's:

June 19, 2000: Well, after nearly two months of waiting for my DSL service to be installed, I'm ensconced here in my home office, perching in front of the computer, surfing along at a zippy … 56K. Yep, sure couldn't see that one coming, could we? …

Manuel returns after 10 minutes more of Mangione with the following news: the “wire center” serving my area is closed, and has been closed since late April. My order for DSL should never have been accepted and, should I wish to request DSL service, my order will have to be resubmitted. Unfortunately, Manuel is not permitted to accept new orders or even resubmit mine until the wire center reopens, which will be “on or after July 14.”

“Why did Carl schedule me for an installation appointment today?” I ask. Manuel asks me to hold. Fifteen minutes of cool trumpet later, he returns with the news that the tech center has no record of an install order in my name.


It's as if the telephone companies don't like DSL. Go figure.

Atomic clocks up the ying yang, but no folders.

Spring wanted to buy a simple folder—the type that has both pockets and tangs. Tangs, by the way, are the small flaps of metal that you slip three-holed punched paper over and fold down to keep the papers together—something that is fairly common.

So we head over to the local Wal★Mart Superstore that is now down the street to look for a simple pocket and tang folder.

Now, a Wal★Mart superstore is the size of a small Latin American country so we knew we might spend some serious time in there looking for a folder.

We found an entire supermarket. We found analog clocks that can set themselves. We found piano wire. We found Jimmy Hoffa (although he didn't look all that good so we put him back). But we did not find a simple pocket and tang folder. Over an hour we spent.

We then went to Office Depot but they had closed by the time we got there. But the Publix was still open where we found, in a grocery story a simple pocket and tang folder.

So much for the Wal★Mart Superstore.

Sunday, November 25, 2001

Twelve Hours

Twelve hours.

Twelve hours and I still didn't find what was wrong.

I spent a good portion of last night and well, this moring (didn't get to bed until 10:00 am) working on a project for a client. When you freelance … okay, when I freelance, I can loose track of time and that's why I found myself working on a project on a Saturday night/Sunday morning.

The project itself isn't that hard. Data mining. Okay, nothing sexy like hacking a government site in sixty seconds with a gun to your head and getting a blowjob but hey, it's a living. And since it's pulling down pages from a webserver (it's public information by the way) it can't be that hard, right?


Twelve hours.

First off, the server I'm pulling from is a Microsoft IIS server and well … you have to be delusional if you think Microsoft follows standards to the letter. I already have to work around a few IIS bugs.

14.30 Location

   The Location response-header field is used to redirect the recipient
   to a location other than the Request-URI for completion of the
   request or identification of a new resource. For 201 (Created)
   responses, the Location is that of the new resource which was created
   by the request. For 3xx responses, the location SHOULD indicate the
   server's preferred URI for automatic redirection to the resource. The
   field value consists of a single absolute URI.

       Location       = "Location" ":" absoluteURI

   An example is:


§14.30 of RFC-2616

Right there. Location: contains an absolute URI. But Microsoft? Nah, that would be like … following a standard or something, so when an IIS server sends out a Location: header, it's relative to the base URI the webserver was given. Well, I've worked around that bug long ago, as well as the bug that IIS servers sometimes hand out two sets of headers.

So that's a known quantity. This should be easy enough.

Twelve hours. It's become a mantra.

Now, even though the information is public (mandated by law no less) the owners of the site aren't going to make it easy to actually get to the information. Oh no. The whole site is framed in frames. Hit the wrong URL or neglect to send the correct Referer: header and you get bumped back to a frame.

Annoying, but having to deal with session tracking cookies is even worse. Attempt to avoid using cookies, and “Sorry, the site requires cookies.”

And you can't even get into the site until you click through their licence agreement.

Oh, did I mention this is public information I am pulling out?

I've never dealt with cookies before and well, there's a reason why I never bothered before. Simple in theory but the devil is in the details.

I've been picking through the site using Lynx to pick apart the site and figure out which URLs I need to grab and which URLs I need as refering pages and figuring out the minimum cookie support I need (since my own homegrown library doesn't exactly support cookies) and my code isn't working.

I find out more where Microsoft's IIS is breaking the standard:

   The action performed by the POST method might not result in a
   resource that can be identified by a URI. In this case, either 200
   (OK) or 204 (No Content) is the appropriate response status,
   depending on whether or not the response includes an entity that
   describes the result.

   If a resource has been created on the origin server, the response
   SHOULD be 201 (Created) and contain an entity which describes the
   status of the request and refers to the new resource, and a Location
   header (see section 14.30).

   Responses to this method are not cacheable, unless the response
   includes appropriate Cache-Control or Expires header fields. However,
   the 303 (See Other) response can be used to direct the user agent to
   retrieve a cacheable resource.

§9.5 of RFC-2616

Okay, so I guess Microsoft weasles out with the should clause there because what it does to is sent out a 302 (move temporarily) which I immediately POST to the new location where:

   If the 302 status code is received in response to a request other
   than GET or HEAD, the user agent MUST NOT automatically redirect the
   request unless it can be confirmed by the user, since this might
   change the conditions under which the request was issued.

      Note: RFC 1945 and RFC 2068 specify that the client is not allowed
      to change the method on the redirected request.  However, most
      existing user agent implementations treat 302 as if it were a 303
      response, performing a GET on the Location field-value regardless
      of the original request method. The status codes 303 and 307 have
      been added for servers that wish to make unambiguously clear which
      kind of reaction is expected of the client.

§10.3.3 of RFC-2616

You can't win coming or going. So in this case, not only is Microsoft IIS possibly in the wrong, but nearly every browser is too! Including the aformentioned Lynx. Although in my case, I don't change the method (frankly, it never occured to me to do such a thing).

Twelve hours.

So I'm spending my time trying to figure out why my code isn't working and yet Lynx does. I enable tracing in Lynx. It doesn't tell me anything that I don't already know. I'm adding headers. I'm mimicing headers.

Twelve hours.

At 10:00 am I give up and head to bed.

I get up and decide to record the actual traffic between my workstation and the server in question, to see exactly what is going on. So I record a session with Lynx, and with my software and look at the raw packets and see what is different between the two.

And that's when I want to slap myself up the head with a large and rather heavy blunt object.

Because it's a problem with my code. In fact, it was a feature of my code that I completely forgot about, seeing how I wrote the code in question back in 1997 (and the last server bug workaround code was added in 1999).

You see, when I was setting the headers to be sent with the request, I was including the characters CR and LF at the end (since that's part of the spec—header lines are separated by those characters) when the code I wrote added the same characters to each header line as it was being sent out.

So no wonder it wasn't working.

Twelve hours.

You can smack me now.

Tuesday, November 27, 2001

TechCenter 051—any relation to Area 51?

Mark sent me a link to TechCenter 051, a facility used by IBM and located in Boca Raton, Florida.

You have to check out the video about TechCenter 051. The beginning comes across like a documentary for the NSA—IBM used this facility for back ops and top secret projects for both commercial and government use. The whole tone comes across as the business equivilent of Area 51 (I wonder if there is a connection? Hmmmmm … ) but once the tone changes, it becomes just another generic infomercial (although the building has redundant SONET rings and redundant power generators. It is an impresive facility.


Spring took it upon herself to fix some pictures I had to get them back on the wall. I had two regular water colors and two rather unusual Oriental Demon Masks. All four belonged to my parents and I know for a fact that the Oriental Demon Masks were a wedding gift to my parents (who were married in Hell, Michigan—fitting, isn't it?). For years they sat in the attic of my Dad's parent's house collecting dust. I gathered them on a visit one year, much to the dismay of my Mom. It was only after I inherited Condo Conner that I actually hung them up just outside the Computer Room.

But eventually the wire on the back of the frame broke so they've been sitting in my room waiting till someone got around to fixing them.

I also had a few African masks that my Dad's mom got for me in the mid 80s. She knew I liked the Oriental Demon Masks but also knew that my Mom would never allow them back in her house. So one summer in the mid-80s we found a pair of masks at a garage sale and paid something like $1 each or something like that. Pretty cheap. And they had been lying around in the room just lying around, since there was no real way to hang them up.

But Spring found a way using picture hooks, one on each side and one at the bottom, and used hanging wire to connect them all in the back with an round picture hook at the junction of wire. She then hung them up along the front entry wall to break up the expansive space of white wall. It actually looks good now.

And yes, we did name them. Bob, Bing, Byron and Arsenio. Any relations to anyone living or dead is purely coincidental.

Wednesday, November 28, 2001

That wasn't necessarily broken …

I figure it's time to fix the switch to the garbage disposal. A week ago I was using it when it stopped working. Even hand-cranking the unit wouldn't bring it back up and my first thought was the switch had gone. It's been pretty flakey for the past few years. I borrowed a voltage detection device from Rob and yes, it did appear that the switch was dead.

So the other night at Wal★Mart I picked up a new wall switch for the disposal (they had switches for 59¢ yet no pocket and tang folders (but Publix, a grocery store, had them). Yet when we went to Home Depot we couldn't find any to save our life. Sigh). And I finally remembered to do the fix during the day, when there's light.

So I shut down the computers since I have no clue which circuit breaker is which—they're all labels “General Lighting” like that helps any. Once the equipment was shut off, I go to the circuit breakers (fortunately, they're in the kitchen. Less fortunately they're in one of the cabinets. Nice location) and shut one off.

The lights in the kitchen go off. Good, I thought. I picked the right one. I then remove the face plate to the switch, and pull the switch out. I check it with the voltage detector and it lights up. Great, it's on another circuit.

Flip. Beep beep beep beep. Flip. Beep beep beep beep. Flip. Beep beep beep beep. Flip. Beep beep beep beep. Well darn! I'm out of breakers.

By this point, Rob had wandered out of his room, bleary eyed from just getting up. “Did we loose power?”

“No, I'm trying to fix the garbage disposal switch and I'm trying to locate the proper circuit.”

“Ah.” He then starts to wander back into his room.

“Oh wait! While you're up, could you look at something?” He used to do concert lighting in a previous life and tends to know more about electrical wiring than I do. He follows me into the kitchen. “This switch is still live.”

“It's usually on its own breaker—garbage disposals suck up a lot of power.” I go over to the circuit breaker panel and start rattling off other breakers. When I mentioned the dish washer, he said that was probably the one. It was.

I started replacing the switch when Rob called out, “Could you please turn the lights back on!”

“Oh, sorry,” I said, flipping the “General Lighting” switches back on. I then went back to replacing the switch. I got it installed, flipped the circuit back on, flipped the switch and … nothing.


The switch needed fixing anyway.

Thursday, November 29, 2001

Princess Mononoke

Spring and I saw Princess Mononoke. Actually, I finally saw the entire thing—I had seen the last half yesterday since I got involved in a project I'm working on.

The movie itself is phenomenal. There are no real bad guys, nor are there any real good guys—just several groups of characters (not all are human) trying to maintain their way of life.

It starts out with Prince Ashitaka defending his village against a demon and getting infected during the fight. The oracle of the village says that he is fated to die and that the demon that attacked the village came from the west. If he is to have the cursed removed (if possible) it is from the west that he must go. So he leaves the village heading west.

Where he comes across Irontown, lead by Lady Eboshi. It's a mining town that is being besieged by animal gods from the forest. She wants to stop the animal gods from attacking the iron works and is willing to go to great lengths to do so.

But aside from that she isn't bad either—the work force is drawn entirely from women slaves and prostitutes and in her inner sanctum she has Leper servants who would otherwise be ignored and left to die on their own.

She inlists the help of Prince Ashitaka and Jigo the Monk, an opportunistic fellow who, if he provides the head of the Forest Spirit, will gain favor with the Emperor.

But—the animal gods in the forest are trying to fight back, helped by San, Princess Mononoke, who was raised by Moro the Wolf goddess as her daughter. In fact, it was a boar god that had turned into a demon through his hatred of humans and had gone rampaging and was the one who wounded Prince Ashitaka, who is fighting the demonic infection and yet uses the power it gives him to keep one side from wiping out the other and manages to gain the trust of both sides.

It's a compelling story and far from a child's tale, despite being animated.

Friday, November 30, 2001

Who is ___________ and why is he trying to transfer my domain to Tucows?

I get the following email:

Subject: Transfer Request for
Date: Fri, 30 Nov 2001 15:54:08 -0500 (EST)

A request has been received to transfer the domain to XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX, Inc., an authorized reseller of the registrar Tucows. This request was entered at Fri Nov 30 15:53:11 2001 by XXXXXXXXXXX. Note that your nameservers will not change as a direct result of this transfer.

This acknowledgement of transfer will be processed by Tucows Inc, an ICANN accredited registrar on behalf of XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX, Inc. If this is a valid request and you wish to approve this transfer, please visit the following url and follow the instructions:


You will need to enter the following information to complete the transfer:
Domain Name:

If you do not wish to approve this transfer, you may simply ignore this message and the request will be cancelled, or you can use the Domain Name and Password above to cancel the transfer.

Accepting this transfer will change the registrar of record for your domain from its current registrar, to Tucows/OpenSRS; it may also change some of the contact information. If you are receiving this email, you should have initiated, or at least been aware of this request already. If this is the first time that you've heard of this, do not accept the transfer until you are satisfied that the request is legitimate.

Thank you.


This is interesting. Someone is attempting to move my registration for from Network Solutions to OpenSRS. Someone by the name of “XXXXXXXXXXX.”

Now, I had been thinking of moving my registration away from Network Solutions but have held off until I've renewed and now I suppose I can look into doing so. I called Mark just to see if he may have initiated it (just on the off chance, you know?). Nope. He was like “NO! NO! Say `No!' to the request!” And when asked if he heard of or possibly knew who “XXXXXXXXXXX” might be, he didn't know.

So I turned to the all knowing Google and asked about “XXXXXXXXXXX.” A few minutes poking around showed him as the owner of XXXXXXXXXX. Aha! I thought. He made a mistake in making the request transfer. So that explains that.

A quick email to him and the situation is clarified.

Update on Tuesday, February 12th, 2002

XXXXXXXXXXX wrote me today informing me that it was not his mistake at all, but that of his hosting company and that somehow they mixed up the domain. I apologize for the assumption that it was XXXXXXXXXXX's mistake (and the quick email wasn't as clarified as it could have been, I suppose).

I'm also agonized over how to handle his politely sent request to remove this entry. I would like to, but doing so makes for a hole in my journal, and it could potentially break links to that page (not that there are any) but I can understand XXXXXX's position on this.

Update on Tuesday, August 19th, 2003

Yet another email from XXXXXXXXXXX asking whem I'm going to remove this entry.

I don't want to remove this entry. And obviously, I'm not toing to remove this entry. So I went through, striking out any mention of XXXXXXXXXXX. It will take a while for this to flush out of Google (where this page is the third result when looking for XXXXXXXXXXX).

Saturday, Debtember 01, 2001

World AIDS DAY—Link and Think

For example, statistics for new AIDS cases were always quoted as cumulative figures that could only get bigger, contrasting with the normal practice with other diseases of reporting annual figures, where any decline is clear at a glance. And despite the media's ongoing stridency about an epidemic out of control, the actual figures from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), for every category, were declining, and had been since a peak around 1988. And this was in spite of repeated redefinitions to cover more diseases, so that what wasn't AIDS one day became AIDS the next, causing more cases to be diagnosed. This happened five times from 1982 to 1993, with the result that the first nine months of 1993 showed as an overall rise of 5% what would otherwise i.e., by the 1992 definition have been a 33% drop. By 1997 the number of indicator diseases was 29. One of the new categories to be added was cervical cancer. (Militant feminists had been protesting that men received too much of the relief appropriations for AIDS victims.) Nobody was catching anything new, but the headlines blared heterosexual women as the fastest-growing AIDS group. Meanwhile, a concerted campaign across the schools and campuses was doing its part to terrorize young people over the ravages of teenage AIDS. Again, actual figures tell a different story. The number of cases in New York City reported by the CDC for ages 13-19 from 1981 to the end of June 1992 was 872. When homosexuals, intravenous drug users, and hemophiliacs are eliminated, the number left not involving these risks (or not admitting to them) reduces to a grand total of 16 in an 11 year period. (Yes, sixteen. You did read that right.)


I'm having problems with this entry and no, it's not technical in nature. They're more of a “how do I write about this topic” problem. Especially since I'm a bit skeptical about AIDS to begin with, as the above quote and the sites I've linked to show.

My intent with this entry was to present a side of the argument that may not get presented; or at least one that I feel might not get presented by the Link and Think Weblog campaign. And I can say with certainty that it has gotten a discussion going on here at Condo Conner.

And that, I think, is the whole purpose of this.

Link and Think

The Twin Towers

POMPANO BEACH—It's a lofty ambition, but two developers want to rival Paris by building two replicas of the Eiffel Tower in this city.

The developers have presented plans for two 105-story towers, shaped just like the French landmark, that would house restaurants, condo units, a hotel and parking garages. One would straddle a section of A1A along the beach just south of Northeast Second Street. The other, just south of Northeast Third Street east of the highway, would house the museum of the International Swimming Hall of Fame—if it ever moves to Pompano Beach.

Via, Paris in Pompano?

Beach side residents who heard of the plan threatened to secede from the city over the plans so much they detest the idea. But that's nothing new. Paris residents protested the construction of the original Eiffel Tower and it was almost dismantled in 1909. And in New York the construction of the World Trade Center was also met with protest of outraged residents but in both cases, the controvertial towers soon became the icons for their respective cities.

Only funny if you've actually attended the school

For some reason, I found this picture very funny. Yes, I actually did attend the school in question (many many years ago). The picture itself is from a series of pictures of South Florida panhandlers engaging in culture jamming.

The panhandler in question is at the intersection of Glades and the Turnpike. I only know this because I recognize both the intersection and the pandhandler.

Sunday, Debtember 02, 2001

The Patron Saint of Television

A friend of ours was in town from Mexico City and as a gift she gave Spring and I figurines of St. Clare of Assisi, the Patron Saint of Television. She was made such on February 17, 1958 by Pope Pius XII.

Spring promptly put the figurines on both television sets in use in the house.

Monday, Debtember 03, 2001

DNS and VeriSigh Woes

I found out from Mark that the secondary DNS server has changed IP address and I've neglected to fix the appropriate domain registration records.

Also today I received a letter from VeriSign letting me know of my new account information. Gone are the days that I'm known as SC74 in the InterNIC domain database. Sigh. So I guess that means no more email templates. Double sigh.

So I sign in like the letter says, to update the records for at least my own domain and wouldn't you know it—it doesn't accept IP addresses for DNS servers. And my secondary DNS server has been registered with the InterNIC and it still has the old address.

So I'll have to wait until Kelly makes the appropriate changes.


I've been working on this project for a bit over a week, and I finally, finally got it working. For the entire week I was fighting what appeared to be a loosing battle with a Microsoft IIS server when all of a sudden it started working.

I had been working on the project today and appeared to be regressing at an alarming rate as I was tweaking code that by all rights should work when I made a final tweak (isolating the code that builds the client headers for the GET and POST commands into a single common routine) so that I could be sure of what headers I was sending for which methods (I need both for this site)) and Lo! It worked!

Looking over the code I see that the only change from the headers I was sending before have the Cookie: header being sent back as the second header instead of the third.

This, on top of the other bugs I have to code around. Grrrrrrrrrrr …

Tuesday, Debtember 04, 2001

Joel on Bloatware

SMS: Joel, what, in your opinion, is the single greatest development sin a software company can commit?

Joel: Deciding to completely rewrite your product from scratch, on the theory that all your code is messy and bug prone and is bloated and needs to be completely rethought and rebuild from ground zero. SMS: Uh, what's wrong with that? Joel: Because it's almost never true. It's not like code rusts if it's not used. The idea that new code is better than old is patently absurd. Old code has been used. It has been tested. Lots of bugs have been found, and they've been fixed. There's nothing wrong with it.

An Interview with Joel Spolsky of JoelonSoftware

I've been pondering this article for the past few days as I worked on my project and I still feel Joel is wrong about this.

Yes, it does cost if existing code is scrapped and a rewrite is done. But I suspect it's not done correctly—with the original authors who learned the hard way what does and doesn't need to be done. It's done with another set of programmers who have little (if any) contact with the original authors so any important information (like Microsoft IIS servers that send out bad Location: headers) is lost.

That's why it costs so much.

And yet, I've done it. I've rewritten the same program three times over (once to switch implementation languages) and each time the code base has improved over the previous version. The latest version had a better base upon which to make modifications (but it's moot since no version of the program is in use, but not for maintenance reasons).

And the cases Joel uses as examples are well known cases where a rewrite was disasterous, but what of NT? That was based upon an entirely different code base than Windows 3.1 and even my most anti-Microsoft friends admit that NT 3.51 was rock solid and well designed (and had nothing in common with Windows 3.1 or 95 except the API). OS/2 2.0 was a rewrite and vastly better than OS/2 1.x.

The sheer volume of bugs, it seems, proves that rewriting code from scratch does not make for a better code base, it makes it worse. Old code doesn't rust, it gets better, as bugs are fixed. Lou Montulli again: “I laughed heartily as I got questions from one of my former employees about FTP code the he was rewriting. It had taken 3 years of tuning to get code that could read the 60 different types of FTP servers, those 5000 lines of code may have looked ugly, but at least they worked.”

Joel on Software—Netscape Goes Bonkers

And I bet those 5,000 lines of code where a nightmare to maintain. Lou Montulli probably laughed because he didn't have to maintain that codebase anymore. Yet another project I worked on involved a program written by a college student that was so poorly written I can't even begin to describe how bad it was (let's see, in C, but with random indentation, poor variable name choice and could produce garbage in rare but most likely inevitable circumstances). Even the original author refused to help (“Hey, I got paid, man! I'm not touching that fXXXXXg code again! He [the customer] got what he paid for!”). So it was without ceremony (since the author was too far away to sacrafice) that I dumped the code and rewrote it from scratch.

SMS: Yes, but isn't such code tight and small? Don't products built this way avoid the dreaded “bloatware” label?

Joel: Don't get me started! If you're a software company, there are lots of great business reasons to love bloatware. For one, if programmers don't have to worry about how large their code is, they can ship it sooner. And that means you get more features, and features make users' lives better (if they use them) and don't usually hurt (if they don't). As a user, if your software vendor stops, before shipping, and spends two months squeezing the code down to make it 50% smaller, the net benefit to you is going to be imperceptible, but you went for two months without new features that you needed, and THAT hurt.

An Interview with Joel Spolsky of JoelonSoftware

Now, Joel worked for years at Microsoft, so he's biased, but here's a reason as a customer to hate bloatware: You don't have to buy a new computer every two years! You have more resources to store and process your data, not to store bloatware. The software might actually run faster, or run acceptably on something less than the greatest and latest.

But as Bill Gates has said—there's no money in fixing bugs, only in features.

Rememberances of code past

I did work at a company where I was helping to port their product from MS-DOS to Unix. One of the mantras at the company was Thou shalt not change code! And they meant it. And it was taken to silly extremes.

One example: filenames. Under MS-DOS the case of a filename given to MS-DOS doesn't matter as MS-DOS will convert it to uppercase, so specifying README or readme gives you the same file. Unix though, is case sensitive so README and readme are two different files. The company decided that all filenames under Unix were to be lower case, but at various points in the code there might be a file specified all in upper case:


What you could not do was change the case of the filename:


No. That might break. How, I don't know. But the mantra was Thou shalt not change code! So the proper way to do it was:

#ifdef MSDOS

Which makes the code harder to follow. Forget:

#if defined(MSDOS)
#elif defined (UNIX)
#  define F_BBSUERS	"bbsusers.dat"
#  error Please define filename for system



That's a major code change (even though it doesn't clutter the code flow with compilation changes). I do think that the Unix manager did manage to get:

char c;

changed to

typedef unsigned char Char;


Char c;

But that may have been the only concession to Thou shalt not change code! that was made at the company.

For some reason, I'm reminded of this because of Joel. Go figure.

Clueless lawyers? Or subtle marketing trick?

The following web link activities are explicitly prohibited by KPMG and may present trademark and copyright infringement issues:

Via MetaGrrrl, Global Legal Disclaimer

Am I now going to get a notice to remove the link? Oooh, I do so much want one. AutoZone didn't seem to have a complaint about my linking to them but then again, I'm not using their logo.

And in the case of KPMG there, since I'm not using their logo ( … must … resist … urge … to link … to … their … logo … ) and I'm not disguising the URL and bypassing their homepage (I am bypassing their homepage up there, but I'm not disguising the URL) so the only thing left is that rather cryptic bit about “inline links,” whatever they mean by that.

Also in their disclaimer, they say “KPMG is obligated to protect its reputation and trademarks and KPMG reserves the right to request removal of any link to our website.” Yup. You (KPMG) have that right, but that's all you have. You're trashing your own reputation on the web just fine—you don't need anyone else to help you there.

Wednesday, Debtember 05, 2001

Can ANYONE help this guy?

Like most people nowadays, I get email spam almost daily. Recently I've been saving it up for the Second Annual Poetry Spam but today I came across this lovely piece of email that I'm not quite sure is spam or not:

To: <>
Subject: Time Travelers PLEASE HELP!! ‥
Date: Wed, 5 Dec 2001 09:17:29

If you are a time traveler or alien disguised as human and or have the technology to travel physically through time I need your help!

My life has been severely tampered with and cursed!! I have suffered tremendously and am now dying!

I need to be able to:

Travel back in time.

Rewind my life including my age.

Be able to remember what I know now so that I can prevent my life from being tampered with again after I go back.

I am in very great danger and need this immediately!

I am aware that there are many types of time travel and that humans do not do well through certain types.

I need as close to temporal reversion as possible, as safely as possible. To be able to rewind the hands of time in such a way that the universe of now will cease to exist. I know that there are some very powerful people out there with alien or government equipment capable of doing just that.

If you can help me I will pay for your teleport or trip down here, Along with hotel stay, food and all expenses. I will pay top dollar for the equipment. Proof must be provided.

Only if you have this technology and can help me please send me a (SEPARATE) email to:



Growing up, my friend Hoade and I wanted to build a timemachine and often would talk about how to do just that. Given that at the time we were both in middle school precluded us from actually achieving that goal, since we had not the financial resources with which to start such an undertaking but even if we had, I think we would not have gone far due to our differences in thought with reguards to the 4th dimension: I thought it was a spatial dimention while Hoade took the presuposition that it was in fact, time.

Be that as it may, I am not a time traveller. Nor am I aware of being an alien (contrary to the opinions of some of my friends) nor, as I have stated above, do I have available such technology. Which is sad since clearly this person needs the help, being cursed and all.

So, is there anyone that can help this guy?

Okay, gotta be clueless lawyers

I tried looking at KPMG in Mozilla but it core dumped on me. Great going guys, you really are trashing your own reputation on the web.

Thursday, Debtember 06, 2001

It's all about the buzz …

We watched Art House last night. I had rented it a few days ago (along with some other movies) but the consensus at the time of rental was I'm on my own if I want to watch this. But come time to watch it, and everybody is here, sitting in front of the TV.

It's different than what you might think from the cover art—while it has porn stars, lesbians and over pompous Hollywood types, it's not a juvenile romp of T & A (okay, it has that, but not overly gratuitous) but a rather smart comedy about the buzz in Hollywood.

And at least the director is honest when he said he made it purely for money.

They know … they know …



“Hello, Pizza Hut. Take out or delivery?”

“Delivery,” I said.

“Phone number.” I give it to them. They mysteriously know my address. “What do you want?”

“Two large meat lover's pizzas.” We're all carnivores here at Condo Conner.

“Type of crust?”

“One thin, one regular.”

“So that's two meat lover's pizzas, one thin crust, one hand tossed crust. Hmmm … no sauce on the thin crust?”

How did they know?

I spent the next half hour looking for bugs …

He seems really desperate …

So far, I've received three (3) cries for help so I'm beginning to think he's either very desperate, or that this might be spam …

Since the email address it was sent to is already a spam trap, I'm getting tempted to reply to this guy for more information …

Oh God, what am I saying?

Friday, Debtember 07, 2001

The Masters cheated …

Starting with that jangling observation, Mr. Hockney derived a new theory of art and optics: around 1430, centuries before anyone suspected it, artists began secretly using cameralike devices, including the lens, the concave mirror and the camera obscura, to help them make realistic-looking paintings. Mr. Hockney's list of suspects includes van Eyck, Caravaggio, Lotto, Vermeer and of course the maddeningly competent draftsman Ingres. All of them, Mr. Hockney suggests, knew the magic of photographic projection. They saw how good these devices were at projecting a three-dimensional world onto a two-dimensional surface. And they just could not resist.

Via Flutterby, Paintings Too Perfect? [requires free registration to read—sorry]

Way back in '89 or '90 I took a drawing class at FAU and since it's been over seven years I think I can safely admit this: I cheated on my final exam.

The final exam was to draw a self portrait. I had put it off until the day before it was due and in a fit of desperation, I knew I had no time to do a proper portrait, so I improvised.

At the time, I had a photocopy machine in my closet (yes, I actually had a copy machine and I still wish I had it but the whys and wherefores about it will have to wait for another time), a light box (constructed by myself and my maternal grandfather when I was in the 6th grade for a project on animation and which I still own. Why I kept a $10 light box (in 1980 dollars) and not a $100 photocopier (in 1989 dollars) is beyond me but I digress …), a pencil sharpener that produced graphite powder as a byproduct and lots of erasers, and thereby my plan was hatched.

I photocopied my hand. Well, several times, until I got this nice high contrast black-and-white photocopy of my hand. I then prepared a piece of drawing paper by smearing powdered graphite over it turning it to a dark gray shade. I then taped the photocopy to the lightbox, then the shaded drawing paper and using an eraser, proceeded to “draw” my hand.

It took maybe two, three hours from start (“What the hell am I going to do?”) to finish (“God, I hope no one finds out I cheated!”) and the result was good enough to get me an A on the final.

Postscript: I bought a cheap frame for the picture and took it to my office at IBM when I worked there as a student programmer in 1990. Before I got around to hanging the picture up it was stolen one night. I hope that it was stolen because the thief liked the picture and not just for the frame—that would be too demoralizing.

I also have somewhere around here another “drawing” I started of a photocopy of a Coke can. I don't think I can finish it as I no longer think I have the original photocopies to work from. Alas.

Sunday, Debtember 09, 2001

50,000 dancing, singing, wisecracking cockroaches can't be wrong

Another film we rented along with Art House was Joe's Apartment, which no one else here wanted to see. Something about 50,000 cockroaches seems to have been the deciding factor.

But it was a very funny, albeit odd, film about a kid fresh from Iowa moving to New York City and lucking into a rent controlled apartment for only $100/month in the lower East Side. Now granted, he has to share this with 50,000 dancing, singing, wisecracking cockroaches but that's not the reason why the apartment is so cheap—it's slated for demolition to make way for the world's largest single building prison.

Yes, there are a few gross out scenes involving cockroaches but for the most part the computer generated cockroaches aren't that horrific and it is a funny film. 50,000 dancing, singing, wisecracking cockroaches can't be wrong.

Nondeterministic Control Words in Forth

I borrowed a Dr. Dobb's Journal from Mark yesterday. I'm only mentioning it because Spring was commenting on it as I was reading it.

It's the Annual Forth Issue from September of 1983 (#83). It's not the fourth issue of the year, but instead about the computer language Forth, developed by Chuck Moore.

I enjoy going through old computer magazines and technical manuals and that's what Spring said separated the geeks from the nerds—geeks like looking through old magazines and technical manuals. I personally can't say I do it because I'm a geek, but I do do it because there are sometimes some interesting techniques that might otherwise get lost (and let's face it—looking at old computer ads are always fun (10Mbyte hard disk for any computer for only $2,300! What a steal!).

For this issue, it's the articles about Forth that are interesting. A couple of articles about Forth on the Motorola 68000 which are still relevant today, nearly 18 years later because of the popularity of the Palm Pilot, which uses a Motorola 68000.

The real mind bending article was NonDeterministic Control Words in Forth by L. L. Odette. The gist is having the program just randomly pick one branch of code or another, plus the ability to backtrack and pick the other choice (if the current branch leads nowhere towards the solution) makes for elegant solutions to certain classes of problems. It's an intriguing method—at any point where you can select a course of action, you save the program state and pick one course. If that turns out to be a non-solution, or a poor solution, you restore the program state and automatically take another course.

Something to think about, which is why I love going through old magazines like this. There are possible treasures to find like this.

Hold me …

And speaking of old computers I came across something very scary and something that probably shouldn't have been done. I mean, there's doing something just to prove it possible, but, like INTERCAL, some things are better left dead and unimplemented.

Tuesday, Debtember 11, 2001

A very niche website here …

This site has to be about the most targetted website I've seen. I'm just flabberghasted that someone would pay money to house something so specific that it just boggles my mind.

I then have to remind myself This is the web … of course there's going to be a site like this …

30 second commute

“You have no reason to get dressed, do you?” asked Spring.

“Um, no. Not really,” I said. We had gone food shopping a few days before, so we could now eat at home instead of having to actually get dressed before eating.

In fact, now that I think of it, I haven't actually gotten dressed in … um … oh dear. If I have to think about it, it's been too long (how long ago did we go grocery shopping?). I also think I'm fast appraching TMI here …

Which is one of the problems of working (or rather, slacking) at home—unless you actually have the discipline to get dressed every day, you won't. For me, I can roll out of bed and if I take a leasurely stroll across Condo Conner it will take me all of 30 seconds to “commute” to my office on the other side. Where I will plant myself in front of the computer for the next X hours pretending to work and maybe, when I get exceedingly board, I will actually do some work.

I suppose I could get some discipline—shower and dress before going to the Computer Room, but if I am to do that, then why not sit in a dining room chair for half an hour and simulate the effects of driving to work? Move my body left and right as I take imaginary corners. Lurch forward when the imaginary jerk in front of me stops suddenly. And randomly (roll a six sided die and if it comes up 1) extend the “drive” by 30 minutes due to imaginary traffic. Then I can walk the rest of the way to the Computer Room, um, office.

Where I can have one of my computers programmed to randomly call me through out the day, to simulate annoying cow-orkers or managers, thus breaking my concentration. For the randomly selected meetings, I can go into the living room and watch CSPAN for half an hour to two hours.

For lunch, I sit in the dining room chair for 15 to 20 minutes, then walk into the kichen for food. After eating there, sit in the dining room chair for another 15 to 20 minutes and head back into the Computer Room, um, office for another round of random phone calls and watching CSPAN on TV.

Then, at 5:10, I can leave, sit in the dining room chair for another 30 minutes (or an hour, if I roll a 1) and arrive home. Whereby I can then walk into the Computer Room and veg out in front of the computer.

Why are you looking at me funny?

Captain Napalm through the USENET ages …

You've probably heard by now that Google now has USENET archives going back to 1981 (it seems from May 17th, 1981). Now you get to see all my postings to USENET. Great.

But I did find this little gem where I implemented a template system for C (before the STL for C++ was ratified I think). And there's probably a good reason why it's in alt.hackers.

The Nine Films of George Lucas

I wish Lucas & Co. would get the thing going a little faster. I can't really imagine waiting until 1997 to see all nine parts of the Star Wars series.

Via the Google USENET archive announcement, First mention of Star Wars Episode 6, June 1982

Ah, innocent youth … if you only knew then that it would be another 16 years before George would film another installment, and that it would have a character more annoying than an entire race in the third film …

But I remember the hype back then. Nine films in total; a trilogy of trilogies if you will, with only two characters making all nine (R2-D2 and C-3PO). But alas …

Oh, and the answer to the trivia question on the first mention of Episode 6 of Star Wars: A New Hope.

Wednesday, Debtember 12, 2001

What? Me worry?

I just had a rather interesting phone conversation with Dad. From a guy who swore up and down that he would never get one of those new fangled computer thingies, he was asking some rather pointed questions about a particular laptop computer. I don't know if I should be worried or not. For one thing, I'm tech support. Woo hoo! And I get to educate Dad about the finer points of Internet life, like virii, Trojans, worms, hoaxes and spam.

Things are going to be rather interesting I can see.

Thursday, Debtember 13, 2001

He's here …

Man, Dad is fast. Got the computer, signed up with an Internet provider and sent me an email.

Interesting times indeed …

Little silver mail boxes

I'm checking the mail (snail mail, the stuff they physically send and you need to put a stamp on, etc.) and I notice that the Condo Association has decided it was time to repaint the mailboxes—I suppose to ensure that property values don't fall too precipitously because of lackluster mailboxes.

So I'm looking a freshly silver painted set of mailboxes. They look nice and all, in a Tin Man sort of way, when I notice that it appears that the painter in question had used not only spray paint, but had neglected to cover up the actual keyholes. I suppose that keeping the mailboxes from actually being used is one way to keep them looking nice.

I force my key in, and spend a few seconds forcing the key to turn. Now granted, it might have been difficult to turn due to the rather large amount of mail that had accumulated there, but that still doesn't excuse the silver paint (of course, being in the lock means the paint takes longer to dry) all over my key and hands.

Bloody condo association!

Parade parade

Spring and I recieved an email from a friend telling us about the Holiday Parade in Coral Springs. Since we live down the road a few miles, we figured we'd go and see it.

We left around 5:00 pm, ran an errand and grabbed a bite to eat, and drove to the parade. We parked about half a mile away since I figured we might not get any closer and there was a handy parking lot right there. It was a pleasant walk.

We talked about small town parades vs. big city parades and I mentioned that the last parade I remember attending was in Brevard, NC as a very small kid, and that was a small town parade, down the main street, which is lined with two story buildings with mom-n-pop shops on the ground floor and apartments above. Big city parades are those with huge floats with the air filled with confetti and thousands upon thousands of people waving and cheering from the sidewalks and windows of tall buildings.

This is Coral Springs. So suburban it hurts. It lacks the charm of small towns and it definitely isn't a big city. We may be seeing a parade, but it isn't a parade parade.

We sat around for maybe an hour or so waiting for the parade to start. The parade itself was going to be on the east bound side of Sample and school busses, with police escourts, where driving back and forth along the west bound side dropping off people and participants. Street vendors were selling cheap inflatable toys, water and soda at extortionistic prices.

“That's what we should do,” I said. “Get some water, some soda, get an orange vest and walk around selling drinks and makes lots of money.”

“But if the cops stop and ask for your permit, you'll be busted,” said Spring.

“You really think the cops stop these people? They're pretty busy escourting busses around.”

“They probably do. Or the company that got the contract will know you aren't with them and ask the cops to check up on you.”

“That's easy then—I'd have a partner along to run interference. A cop comes up to me, the partner would then come up and distract the cop while I slip away.”

“And what about the interference? How will he get away?”

“I'll disguise myself, cause some interference so he can get away.”

“That seems to be an awfully large amount of work to make some bucks,” she said.

I pondered this. Yes, it did seem like quite a bit of work. “Might as well just mug the vendors then. Easier that way.” She agreed.

It was 7:30 pm and the parade still hadn't started. We debated about going back to the car and getting the folding love seat stashed in the trunk, but I said why not walk towards the starting postion of the parade (on the west end of Sample) and once we see the parade, stop there and watch it. She agreed and we started walking west along Sample.

About a half mile or so up the road we saw that the parade had started winding its way down Sample, so we picked a spot and sat down.

The highlight of the parade were the Firefighter Calendar Girls. On the back of the firetruck was a large sign saying “We need loving homes!” but while Spring and I wouldn't mind giving a loving home to the Firefighter Calendar Girls, we both suspected the sign were for the dalmations being paraded alongside the fire truck.

There were also the obligatory school marching bands (but a puzzling selection of schools though—about half the schools present were in Coral Springs but some were from as far away as Sunrise and Pompano, but not Coconut Creek, which is next to Coral Springs and where I went to school) and the various groups of animal lodges and cheesy floats and blantant advertising banners being paraded down Sample.

Over all we had an enjoyable time.

But it still wasn't a parade parade.

Friday, Debtember 14, 2001

Mindless Meme Propagation

My friend meant well, but still, how hard is it to go to Google, type in a search request and on the first link (!) see that this is an unsubtantiated urban legend or rumor?

On that particular forward, I was the 161st person to get that. It was forwarded some eight (!) times before my frind got it and forwarded it out to his friends, some of whom, I'm sure, are forwarding it yet still.


Tuesday, Debtember 18, 2001


I found out the hard way (at the ATM) that I had in fact lost my check card. No amount of scouring through my wallet or the various locations I keep my wallet at home brought to light the hallowed card.

I had last used the card on the 13th at an ATM (in fact, the same one I was at when I found my card missing), which goes to show you just how often I actually use the card. Spring and I went back to the video store we rented videos from the other day, thinking that it may have fallen out there.

No luck.

Upon getting home, I called my bank and had the current card cancelled. I was worried since with a check card you are liable for more money if it is abused than with a proper credit card. The good news is that there wasn't much money in the account to abuse (the bad news being—there isn't much money in the account to use). Fortunately for me though, the last transaction on the card was the ATM from the 13th so I most likely left it in the machine.

I ordered a new one but it'll take something like two weeks to arrive (given the current holiday season and the recent Anthrax scares). Sigh.

Wednesday, Debtember 19, 2001

Lord of the Movies

Spring and I were invited to the opening of Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (and this has the highest rating of a film I've ever seen over at the IMDB) at a relatively obscure theater just past noon on opening day by a friend of Spring's, Russ.

The movie is incredible. The special effects were incredible and the computer generated effects were not at all annoying (except for the few shots of Gollum). They did an incredible job of resizing the actors (John Rhys-Davies is not a small man yet plays Gimli the Dwarf). The landscapes were more impressive and beautiful than those in Star Wars: The Phantom Menace (the landscapes where one of three things that kept me watching that movie—the other two being Natalie Portman and the third being the fight sequence between Obi-Wan, Qui-Gon and Darth Maul). It was a beautiful movie.

I could however, do without the introduction at the beginning of the movie since the material there is covered several times through the rest of the film, but that's me. Otherwise, I have no complaints about the film other than I have to wait another year for the next installment.

Notes on a Conversation about Billy Elliot

Spring has been trying to get me to watch Billy Elliot since we rented several days ago. My relunctance to watch it has a bit to do with my relunctance to see many movies (I do have to be forced to watch certain types of films and often times I end up liking the film but I digress) but it has more to do with the subject matter—someone who is hiding what they are doing from other people and the inevitable Embarrasing Scenes that I find way to painful to watch.

“But it's got a riot in it,” said Spring.

“Yea … ”

“It's got kicking down of door,” she replied.


“It's got judicious use of sledgehammers in it,” said Spring.

“Are you guys talking about Office Space?” asked Rob.

An embarrassing richness of embarrassment

So I finally broke down and watched Billy Elliot with Spring. And while there were some very funny and surreal bits in the movie (such as Billy and Debbie are talking as they walk and Debbie is drawing a stick across the bricks in a building, then along a line of riot police, like there is nothing at all wrong about running a stick along a line of riot police, then along another wall and the bit where Billy's brother is running away from the riot police and is taking a most torturous route through homes) but it was, as I was afraid of, an embarrassing number of Embarrassment Scenes that our hero has to endure.

And I for one, cannot endure Embarrassment Scenes at all so that made the movie quite painful for me to watch (and yes, at one point, Spring covered my eyes so I didn't have to watch one quite painful Embarrassment Scene).

Overall I found the movie okay if a bit uneven in the handling of comedy and drama.

Thursday, Debtember 20, 2001

Lord of the Movies II

As if once wasn't enough, Spring and I saw Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring with Mark and Kelly in a larger theater with much better sound and way more people.

Just as impressive.

But the movie ends and Mark is visibly disapointed. “That's it? It's over?”

“Um … yea,” I said. “Didn't you realize this was the first film of a trilogy?”

“No. I never read the books; I don't even know what the story was about!”

“Oh,” Spring, Kelly and I said.

But Mark did enjoy the film.

[WARNING: Movie/book spoilers ahead—if you don't know the story, stop reading unless you want a surprise spoiled for you] The entire audience got into the film to the point where Boromir gets shot with the initial Uruk-hai arrow—the background music and noise is cut and you hear the thunk of the arrow and the entire theater is silent. The silence is broken when someone in the theater goes “Shit!” An epithat that this just can't happen! This isn't happening. But it is.

A very powerful moment in the movie. And both times I've seen the movie my eyes tear up. The death of Boromir is a painful thing to watch.

Saturday, Debtember 22, 2001

“Three times for geeks, who will pay.”

Yup. Spring and I saw Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring yet again today, with yet another group of friends. At least this time I actually like the film, unlike Star Wars: The Phantom Menace (which I saw not only three times, but three times on opening day, with various groups of friends, but that's another story).

This movie is likely another maneuver to capitalize on the new found infatuation of visually oriented youth with bright and dazzling display of the occult, witchcraft and evil. It is another presentation of using evil to fight evil. And it presents sorcery as both “good” and bad. Violently. Grotesquely. While the story being based on evil fighting evil with evil is bad enough, it is clear the filmmakers capitalized on extremism. Tolkien certainly described the evil and demonic characters in his novel quite grotesquely but not nearly as hideous and vile as those in this movie. After more than 500 movies I suspect I can say with credibility that any of the imagery of evil you have seen before now does not match the evil in The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. And there are two more Lord of the Rings coming.

ChildCare Action Project (CAP) review of The Fellowship of the Ring

So the evil presented in this movie is worse than that of The Exorcist? Or even of Hellraiser (which the ChildCare Action Project does not have a review on, oddly enough)?

Even the scripture they quote in supporting their view is, in my opinion, a bit shakey. Let's see, they use Deuteronomy 18:9-12, but there I'm guessing that Moses is using his authority to make sure none past him surpass his power. The Ten Plagues? The Passover? The parting of the Red Sea? Shall we then condemn Daniel? Need I even start with Jesus?

The rest of the references are from the New Testament, which isn't too surprising since a tenet of Christian thought (from at least the 10th century onwards) is that God has removed Himself from intervention in this world and that any magic done is no longer through Him but through Satan (which, in my mind, clinches the notion that Christianity is a death based religion but that's a topic for some other time). It is also worth noting that J. R. R. Tolkien was an ardent Christian (Catholic I do believe) and even convinced athiest C. S. Lewis to convert (and who later went on to write the Chronicles of Narnia, a Christian allegory).

Monday, Debtember 24, 2001

Holiday Spewage

I awoke to the sound of heavy machinery being operated in Condo Conner.

I walked out of the bedroom to find Rob with a 10-gallon wet/dry vac working the area in front of his bathroom. “The bathroom flooded,” he said when he saw me. “I tried plunging, but it didn't work.”

“Nice,” I said. “I didn't know you had a wet/dry vac.”

“We do now,” he said. “Went out and bought it today.”

“Why not rent?”

“What's going to be open today?

“Good point,” I said. Rob went back to work, and I headed off to the bedroom. I went back to the bathroom (the master bath is at one end of the master bedroom) and I knew the situation was bad—water had flooded my bathroom as well.

Worse, I have books stacked all over the bathroom.

Great, I thought. I walked back out to talk to Rob about borrowing the vac when he was done. “Bad news.”

“Oh no,” he said.

It was then that Spring came home. She's dog sitting for a friend of ours for the next few days. “I have bad news,” I said.

She looked worried. “A fire?”

“No,” said Rob. “The opposite. Flood.” We then filled her in on what happened. She too, was dismayed when she heard about the books in the bathroom. Spring and I went to our bathroom and I started handing out books to her. Fortunately, my copy of Shockwave Rider (by John Brunner), a paperback, soaked up the water, keeping the rest of the books dry (okay, my First Edition copy of Cryptography Applied was wet on the back cover, but it's a slick cover so no damage was done).

Books safely out of the way, I then turned my attention to the problem at hand. The toilet bowl was at a normal level, but the water had backed up in the shower stall. I took a plunger to it, trying to possibly clear the pipes to lower the water level, but all I obtained was the shower stall coughing up a few hair balls and other assorted material better left unsaid. But the water level remained. Spring attempted to plunge, but still, the water level remained unchanged.

I then took to using the vac to soak up the water from the carpet around the bathroom door and to sucking up the water from the bathroom mat. After getting as much water out of it (several gallons) I then went outside to dump the water.

There, I talked to my neighbor. He said that this happens from time to time (although I can't remember it being this bad, and I've lived here in Condo Conner for over ten years) and that the appropriate parties have been contacted, although due to the holliday, it may take some time before the plumber comes, as our location is third on the list.

Now I really have to go to the bathroom.

Ho ho ho.

Holiday Drainage

As Rob and I headed out to McDonalds for bathroom and food, we saw the plumber outside snaking out the sewer line from the building, a good sign.

Upon returning, the plumber was no longer around, and the neighbor said that the blockage has appeared to been cleared away (someone flushed a wad of paper towels down the toilet it seems). Now all that is left is to dry out the carpet and clean the shower stall.

Friday, Debtember 28, 2001

Hack, ack, ptooey *cough*

The dishes are piling up. So's the garbage. There are blankets and pillows everywhere and I've been nuking food.

Yes folks, I'm sick.


On the 24th I woke up fine. On the 25th I woke up feeling like Death Warmed Over. Maybe not that bad, but enough to make me wish I could swap out my head for a new one.

I was feeling a little bit better yesterday, but tripping on a bookshelf (you pretty much have to loose all sense of balance to do that) and almost onto Spring, and sounding like a feral animal foaming at the mouth as I try to breath last night I took as a signal that I probably shouldn't get out of bed any time soon.


Sunday, Debtember 30, 2001

The Big Q

NyQuil, NyQuil, NyQuil, we love you; you giant fucking Q!

—Denis Leary

   The Nighttime,
     Sniffling, Sneezing,
   Coughing, Achy,
Stuffy Head, Fever
   So you can Rest
and Have a Good
   Morning Medicine



Now I see why Denis Leary loves NyQuil.

In her ongoing battle to cure me, Spring gave me some NyQuil since we were all out of Robitussin (one of the active ingredients in both is Dextromethorphan, a cough suppressent).

In thirty seconds I was out, and within 45 seconds I was tripping.

Now mind you, I rarely take medications or drugs so this is pretty new to me and it seems that certain … um … effects take rather easily to me. I remember back when I was thirteen or fourteen, sitting at the dentist's office waiting to have my wisdom teeth pulled. The dentist left me in the chair breathing nitrous oxide for what seemed to me about half an hour. During that time everything turned white. White on white. Beautiful. And I was floating. And flying.

And quite high.

The dentist later remarked that he had never seen anyone laugh so hard from taking nitrous oxide (aka “laughing gas”). It was good enough that it left me waiting for my next visit the following week to have even more wisdom teeth pulled out (but the second time wasn't nearly as good as the first time alas).

So yes, since I rarely (usually only when prescribed) take drugs, when I do they usually hit me quite hard.

So I lay there, passed out on NyQuil, my legs stretching out to inifinity, my right arm slowly growing fuzzy—not hairy fuzzy but quantum fuzzy, like it was probably there within a certain area usually defined by the volume taken up by my right arm, give or take an inch or two. And then things got wierd. I think.

I don't remember much other than waking up some twelve hours later quite dehydrated and still feeling groggy.

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